The authorities used excessive force to disperse peaceful protesters and violated the right to freedom of assembly. Government critics continued to be arbitrarily detained. Dozens of people were killed in attacks by armed groups or in inter-communal violence. The Observatory for the Promotion of Gender Equality and Equity was created amid continued violations of women’s and girls’ rights. More than 2 million people faced food insecurity.
On 13 March, a year after the death of former president Idriss Déby and the establishment of the Transitional Military Council led by his son, Mahamat Idriss Déby, a pre-dialogue opened in Doha, Qatar, between the government of Chad and several armed groups with the aim of ensuring the participation of the latter in a national dialogue. In August, the national dialogue was held in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena, with participation from the government, civil society and some of the armed groups. This dialogue granted the extension of the transitional period for two years and the possibility for Mahamat Idriss Déby to run in future elections.
Freedom of assembly
In May, several events organized by the opposition Wakit Tama platform to protest against the military transition and the French government’s foreign policy in Chad were banned by the Ministry of Security on the grounds of possible public disorder. The movement also planned demonstrations for the same purposes in August and September during the inclusive national dialogue. These were banned on the same grounds.
The law governing freedom of peaceful assembly remained contrary to international standards including the guidelines of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which state that protests do not require prior approval but, at most, prior notification.
Excessive use of force
In January a demonstration was held in the town of Abéché to protest against the planned appointment of a new canton chief from the Bani Halba community in Abéché. According to the NGO Chadian Convention for the Defence of Human Rights, over a two-day period at least 13 protesters were killed and 80 injured.1 On 25 January, a government spokesperson denied the use of firearms in a statement to the press. On 3 February, a government delegation visited Abéché and acknowledged the disproportionate use of force. At least 212 people were also arrested, according to local organizations. Some were reportedly ill-treated before being released after five days in detention without charge.
Security forces also used excessive force targeting associations and the “Transformers” political party, which challenged the organization of the national dialogue in N’Djamena. In early September, security forces surrounded the headquarters of the Transformers and fired tear gas. Human rights defenders and the leader of the Transformers reported that several demonstrators were injured.
On 20 October, security forces used excessive force during a demonstration organized by several political parties and associations to protest against the extension of the transitional period. The government announced that at least 50 people died and 300 were injured. A national commission of inquiry was set up and a commission led by the Economic Community of Central African States began a separate investigation in December.
Arbitrary arrests and detentions
In May, following dispersal of a demonstration by the Wakit Tama platform, six of its leaders were transferred to Moussoro prison, 300km from N’Djamena.2 According to their lawyers, their case should have fallen within the jurisdiction of the Court of N’Djamena. The Public Prosecutor announced that they were being prosecuted for “gathering with a view to disturbing public order, attacking property and physical aggression”. Following a trial in Moussoro, they were sentenced to a 12-month suspended prison term each.
On 30 August a demonstration by the “unemployed graduates” movement to demand jobs in the civil service was also dispersed by the police. According to the movement’s leaders, several members were injured during the dispersal. Several people were arrested and released a few hours later.
In September at least 140 people who were gathered in front of the office of the Transformers party were arrested and released the same day. They were protesting against the national dialogue and the security forces’ surrounding of the building.
Right to a fair trial
Following the October demonstrations, hundreds of people, including children, were arrested and illegally transferred to Koro Toro, 500km from N’Djamena. In December, after hearings held behind closed doors, which were boycotted by the defendants’ lawyers, 262 defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to three years; 80 defendants were given suspended sentences ranging from one to two years, and 59 defendants were acquitted, according to the public prosecutor.
Abuses by armed groups
According to reports by the media and NGOs, the armed group Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) continued to unlawfully kill civilians in the Lake Chad area. In early August, ISWAP fighters reportedly killed six civilians in the village of Aborom. In September ISWAP reportedly killed one person and looted several homes in Baltram. Alleged ISWAP fighters also killed five civilians on a boat in Baga Sola in September.
Right to life
Communal violence leading to killings between individuals were recurrent during the year. In February at least 10 people were killed in inter-communal violence in the town of Sandana. In May, violence in Danamadji resulted in the deaths of six people. In September, at least 17 people were killed in Mangalmé. According to local NGOs, the disputes originated from tensions between herders and farmers over access to natural resources, especially grazing land. On each occasion the authorities announced investigations and set up local dialogues to resolve the conflicts.
Right to truth, justice and reparation
In September, transitional president Mahamat Idriss Déby wrote to the minister of finance asking him to transfer CFA 10 billion (USD 14.8 million) as the state’s contribution to the fund to compensate the victims of former president Hissène Habré’s regime. Over 7,000 victims had been awarded CFA 82 billion (over USD 135 million) by the Extraordinary African Chambers in 2017 in the trial against Hissène Habré, and CFA 75 billion (nearly USD 124 million) by Chadian courts in 2015 in the trial against former agents of Hissène Habré’s regime, but they had not received any compensation by the end of the year.
Women’s and girls’ rights
According to UNICEF, 67% of girls in Chad were married before the age of 18 and 30% before the age of 15, giving Chad one of the highest rates of child marriage globally.
On 19 July, Chad created the Observatory for the Promotion of Gender Equality and Equity, with a mission to promote the inclusion of measures for gender equality in public policies.
In August, the Higher Council for Islamic Affairs in Mangalmé, Guera region, introduced a fine for people who refuse marriage proposals. The Chadian League for Women’s Rights denounced this measure as promoting the forced marriage of girls.
Right to food
According to the Famine Early Warning System, rising prices and fuel shortages increased food insecurity. Conflicts between farmers and herders also disrupted agricultural production and seasonal herding.
According to OCHA, in July approximately 2.1 million people in Chad were food and nutritionally insecure.