Chad: Arrest and arbitrary detention of human rights defenders during demonstration in N’Djamena
Paris, Geneva, N’Djamena, 20 May 2022. Several human rights defenders and civil society figures in Chad were arbitrarily arrested during a peaceful demonstration authorised by the authorities on 14 May 2022 in N’Djamena. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a partnership between the International Federation for Human Rights - FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture - OMCT), the Chadian League for Human Rights (LTDH), and the Chadian Association for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (ATPDH) condemn these arrests and demand their immediate and unconditional release.On 14 May 2022, a peaceful march to denounce France’s support for the transitional military authorities in Chad and the alleged presence of a French military base on Chadian territory was organised in N’Djamena, at the initiative of the citizens’ coalition, Wakit Tama, which brings together civil society organisations and opposition parties. The demonstration had been duly authorised by the Ministry of Public Security and Immigration, and was escorted by Chadian defence and security forces along the route. However, incidents occurred on the fringes of the demonstration and acts of vandalism were committed, in particular against petrol stations belonging to the French oil group Total, off the authorised route.Following the march, Gounoung Vaima Ganfare, Secretary General of the Union of Trade Unions of Chad (UST), and Koudé Mbaïnaïssem, a lawyer at the Chad Bar Association, both members of Wakit Tama, were arrested by individuals presumed to be members of Chad’s intelligence service. Three other participants in the demonstration were also arrested: Hissène Massar Hissène, President of the Rassemblement des cadres de la société civile, Allamine Adoudou, former Ambassador, and Youssouf Korom, Secretary General of the Syndicat des commerçants fournisseurs tchadiens. All five were then placed under a detention warrant by the Public Prosecutor at the Court of N’Djamena and incarcerated at the Klessoum prison in N’Djamena. They are being prosecuted for "destruction of property" and "disturbance of public order."Since then, groups of young people have continued to demonstrate in the streets of N’Djamena and other towns and villages in the country to demand France’s withdrawal from Chad. These demonstrations are systematically dispersed by the Chadian military using tear gas.On 17 May 2022, attorney Max Loalngar, spokesperson for Wakit Tama and former president of LTDH, was in turn arrested and detained on the premises of the intelligence service for participating in the 14 May march. He was charged in the same case as Mr Ganfare and Mr Mbaïnaïssem.On the same day, in protest against the arbitrary arrest of Mr Mbaïnaïssem and Mr Loalngar, the Chadian Bar Association decided to suspend all activities throughout the country until 6 June 2022, when the first hearing in the trial of the two lawyers and other civil society activists arbitrarily detained in the same case is scheduled.The Observatory, LTDH, and ATPDH strongly condemn the arbitrary arrest of Gounoung Vaima Ganfare, Koudé Mbaïnaïssem and Max Loalngar and call on the transitional authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally.Our organisations are concerned about the systematic repression of peaceful demonstrators in Chad and remind the transitional authorities of their obligation to respect and protect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, in particular under Articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Articles 9 and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which Chad has ratified.The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, LTDH, and ATPDH reiterate their demands.
To the Chadian authorities:
Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of all human rights defenders in Chad
Ensure strict respect for fundamental freedoms and in particular guarantee respect for freedom of expression and demonstration
Conduct a prompt, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation to shed light on human rights violations and abuses committed against human rights defenders;
Respect the rights of human rights defenders and demonstrators and guarantee the conditions for a favourable environment for their legitimate promotion and defence of human rights, and cease all forms of pressure on civil society in Chad.
To Chad’s international partners, particularly the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the European Union, and France: Spare no effort to contribute to the respect and protection of human rights and of defenders and demonstrators in Chad, in accordance with the provisions of their respective treaties.
The Chadian League for Human Rights (LTDH) is a human rights association created in 1991 in a historical context marked by the beginning of the democratisation process in Africa. The organisation’s objectives are the defence and promotion of human rights contained in international and national legal instruments. LTDH monitors and contributes to the independence of the judiciary and works for good governance in Chad, particularly in the context of the transition the country is undergoing. Radio FM Liberté was created jointly with other civil society organisations in Chad to meet these objectives.
The Chadian Association for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (ATPDH) is a secular, non-political and non-profit organisation under Chadian law. It was created on 29 November 1991 and works for peace, freedom and fundamental human rights. It fights for democracy, development, and the establishment of the rule of law.