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Human rights defenders in Chad suffer from the culture of impunity, absence of rule of law and political instability that is prevalent throughout the country. The extreme political repression in Chad forms the backdrop to severe restrictions on freedom of expression. Defenders have reportedly been subjected to threats, harassment, stigmatization, physical assault, arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detention, judicial proceedings and ill-treatment and torture while in detention. Lawyers assisting victims of the former regime and journalists have been particularly targeted.
As the conflict in Darfur has spread into areas of Chad, human rights defenders who criticise government actions have been accused of being rebel supporters. There has been a wave of threats, attacks and arrests against human rights defenders and journalists following the rebel’s retreat in the capital. This resulted in several defenders having to leave the country or going into hiding to avoid further assaults from the security forces. Journalists who voice opposition to government policies, including enlistment of child soldiers, have been accused of defamation and incitement to hatred. A radio station operated by human rights organisations has closed due to the harassment and detention of its journalists. Lawyers assisting victims of human rights violations and fighting against impunity have reportedly received intense threats and were labelled as ‘traitors’.
The national legislation provides for prison sentences for press offences and the judiciary is used to silence critical voices. Besides defamation charges, courts have at times seized the assets of critical media outlets. A state of emergency was declared in November 2006 and again in February 2008 and resulted in serious restrictions of freedom of expression, including a system of prior censorship on print media. Protests and demonstrations are systematically prohibited or repressed by the army and security forces.
Chad: Appeal of case against human rights defender Mr Deuzoumbe Daniel Passalet adjourned to 6 June 2012