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’.