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20 May 2022

Concern about the increased targeting of human rights defenders

Front Line Defenders expresses its deep concern at the increased targeting and excessive use of force against human rights defenders in Chad, in particular during the crackdown of peaceful protests across the country which started on 14 May 2022. Since 14 May 2022, five human rights defenders, were arbitrarily arrested and are currently in detention in connection with the peaceful protests.

On 14 May 2022, several protesters were arrested during a peaceful protest organized by the citizen movement, WAKIT TAMA. The peaceful protests denounced human rights violations, lack of consultation and inclusion of human rights defenders in the transition and French military presence in the country. Among those arrested were, Gounoung Vaima Gan Fare, secretary general of the Union des Syndicats du Tchad; Youssouf Korom Ahmat, secretary general of the Syndicat des commercants fournisseurs du Tchad, and; Koude Mbainaissem, a lawyer and president of the Association for Freedom of Expression. They were presented before the N’Djamena court of first instance on 16th May and the hearing is scheduled for 6th June 2022. They are currently being detained at the Klessoum prison in N’Djamena.

Max Loalngar, human rights defender, lawyer and coordinator of the citizen movement WAKIT TAMA, was abducted at his mother’s house on 17 May 2022 by unknown men in two vehicles with tinted windows, following a summons from the judicial police. According to local sources, the human rights defender is currently detained at the General Intelligence Services. No trial date has been scheduled to date, and Max Loalngar has no access to his family. The bar association started a peaceful strike on 17 May to protest against the detention of the human rights defender. On 19 May 2022, Max Loalngar was transferred from General Intelligence Services to Klessom prison, where the other human rights defenders are being held.

On 6 March 2022, human rights defender Jacques Saham Ngarassal received a series of anonymous phone calls threatening him while on his way to attend a church service. According to the human rights defender, he received these series of calls days after an interview he gave on 27 February 2022 to FM Liberte, concerning the human rights situation in the country and the release of a new report by Tournons La Page and AEDH on the current military transition titled ’’Chad: A hereditary repression’’. The human rights defender filed a complaint with the Ndjamena prosecutor on 9 March 2022 against the unknown individual.

Since the death of former President, Idriss Deby Itno, in April 2021 which led to the current military transition led by his son, Mahamat Deby Itno, human rights defenders have continuously expressed their concerns over the use of similar tactics to silence dissenting voices and undermine the work of human rights defenders across the country. On 2 October 2021, a peaceful protest was organized by the citizen movement WAKIT TAMA, with the aim of striving for justice and inclusion amidst the current military transition in Chad. The peaceful protest was violently r epressed by security forces who were initially deployed to oversee the originally authorised protest, leading to the arrest and injury of several protesters, including prominent human rights defender Jacques Saham Ngarassal. At least 16 people were reportedly killed and hundreds were arrested in a series of protests between 27 April 2021 and 19 May 2021 in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, and in Moundou, the second largest city of the country.

Front Line Defenders condemns the brutal arrest and detention of human rights defenders and their targeting in Chad. It expresses further concern at the excessive use of force by the security forces to disperse peaceful protests, which are a fundamental right consecrated within the Chadian Constitution, leading to the targeting, arrest and detention of human rights defenders in Chad. Front Line Defenders calls on the Chadian authorities to immediately release and cease the targeting of human rights defenders, and ensure that human rights defenders are able to work in a safe environment without any fear of reprisals.