HRW slams Chadian forces over rights violations during anti-government protests

Chad HRW slams Chadian forces over rights violations during anti-government protests

The NGO Human Rights Watch has denounced murders, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances, and acts of torture linked to the clampdown against anti-governments demonstrations by the authorities in October.

On 20 October 2022, some 60 people died – mainly young people shot dead in the capital by the authorities – during an opposition demonstration against transitional president General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno's decision to prolong his stay in power for two more years.

According to the Human Rights Watch report published this Monday, security forces fired live ammunition at demonstrators, killing and injuring dozens, beat people, chased them into houses and arrested them.

"Because of the seriousness of the crimes committed by the Chadian security forces on 20 October – and in the days that followed – the international community should provide a strong response," the NGO added.

Deaths and disappearances

According to the government, a total of 621 people were arrested in N'Djamena and taken to Koro Toro, a high-security prison in the middle of the desert 600 kilometres from the capital. 

Witnesses told the NGO that several people had died on the way to the prison due to deprivation of "food and water".

The rights group added that the minors arrested during the protests – 83 according to the authorities – were held in the same cells and rooms as adults for at least the first two weeks of their incarceration.

The report also cites witnesses who say that security forces "driving unmarked cars" went to "communities known to support political opposition groups.

The organisation also points to several cases of "enforced disappearances": detainees whose "whereabouts remain unknown and whose family members and lawyers have requested information in vain".

Meanwhile, the report has also highlighted that civil society leaders and lawyers have no confidence in either the independence or effectiveness of a commission of inquiry that was launced by the Economic Community of Central African States in the aftermath of the October demonstrations.

The NGO has recommended that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights should be called in to assist with the investigations.