Chad. Leader of citizen movement held in secret detention, a dozen members arrested

The Chadian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Nadjo Kaina Palmer, an activist being held in secret detention, along with at least a dozen members of a citizen movement who were arrested during a peaceful meeting this morning in the capital, N’Djamena, Amnesty International stated today.

The activists were arrested by police and gendarmes at around 09.00 hours this morning at the capital’s Labour Exchange as they were responding to a call made on 3 April by Nadjo Kaina Palmer, spokesperson for the IYINA (“We’re Fed Up” in Arabic) citizen movement, to join a peaceful protest against the political, economic and social situation in the country. Nadjo Kaina Palmer was himself arrested and has been held in secret detention since 6 April. No known charges have yet been brought against them.

Peacefully expressing a point of view, even critical, of the political, economic and social situation in a country is not an offence and should under no circumstances be considered as such

Balkissa Ide Siddo, Amnesty International’s Central Africa researcher

“Peacefully expressing a point of view, even critical, of the political, economic and social situation in a country is not an offence and should under no circumstances be considered as such,” said Balkissa Ide Siddo, Amnesty International’s researcher on Central Africa.

“This tactic on the part of the Chadian authorities, which consists of systematically arresting members of citizen movements who wish to enjoy their right to peaceful protest, demonstrates yet again that freedom of expression remains under severe pressure in the country”.

Nadjo Kaina Palmer’s place of detention remains unknown. Neither his family nor his lawyer have had access to him since his arrest. His lawyer today filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor’s Office and was informed that no information was available about him and that no complaint had been received concerning him.

“Nadjo Kaina Palmer and the arrested members of the IYINA movement are prisoners of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released,” stated Balkissa Idé Siddo.Nadjo Kaina Palmer was responding to a summons issued by the Chadian National Security Agency (ANS) when he was arrested on 6 April at 18.00 hours.

During a press conference on 3 April last, he had called on the people of Chad generally and young people in particular to observe a “We’re Fed Up day” on Monday 10 April 2017 to mark the anniversary of the 2016 presidential elections, and to dress in red or wear a red headscarf to express their “frustration at the current regime in place and to reject bad governance, impunity and humiliation”.

Amnesty International is calling on the Chadian authorities to put an end to all forms of intimidation and harassment suffered by activists and human rights defenders in Chad.

Until they are released, the authorities must ensure that Nadjo Kaina Palmer and all those arrested today remain free from all forms of torture and ill-treatment and that they are able to regularly meet with their lawyers, receive visits from their families and benefit from all necessary medical care. The authorities also have a duty to inform Nadjo Kaina Palmer’s family and lawyer of his whereabouts.

“The Chadian authorities must stop claiming national security and the country’s stability as justification for arbitrary arrests and detentions, must put an end to the manipulation of the ANS and stop flouting the freedoms of expression and assembly, which are guaranteed under the Chadian Constitution and international human rights law,” said Balkissa Ide Siddo.