May 2023 | Presidential decree implements asylum law
At the end of April, Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Deby issued a decree that implements an asylum law approved by the legislature in 2020. This law will significantly improve conditions for asylum seekers in the country, including through providing them access to identification documents, the labour market, healthcare, and education. The current context gives this decree added importance as Chad has been one of the major destinations for refugees fleeing the violence in Sudan (and has hosted refugees and asylum seekers for many years before this). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are 600,000 refugees and asylum seekers presently in the country (accounting for three per cent of the population of the country).
March 2023 | Pardons granted for hundreds convicted in mass trials
Following the mass trial of people alleged to have participated in a wave of protests in October 2022, 262 were sentenced to prison in December 2022. In a similar process that concluded on 21 March, more than 400 alleged rebel fighters were convicted of a range of charges related to the April 2021 killing of former President Idriss Déby in an engagement between the Chadian military and the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT). In late March, President Mahamat Déby made two announcements of pardons in these cases. On 26 March, 380 of the alleged rebel fighters were pardoned. Then on 28 March, 259 of the alleged protestors were pardoned. Together the mass trials and mass pardons are not in line with principles of the rule of law, however the pardons contribute to national reconciliation and may help to advance Chad along its path to return to peaceful civilian rule.
December 2022 | Protestors sentenced after short trial at remote prison
Among the hundreds of people arrested after the protests against the delay in transitioning to civilian rule on 20 October, 401 were put on trial at the remote Koro Toro prison at the end of November. Responding to violations of the procedural rights of the accused, the Chadian Bar Association went on strike, and the accused were without legal representation during the trial. Similarly, Amnesty International criticised the Chadian authorities for violating the criminal procedural rights of the accused protestors, noting Chad’s commitments under the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights. At the end of the trial, 262 people were sentenced to prison terms of two or three years, while another 80 were given suspended sentences.
November 2022 | Trials and investigations follow the violent repression of October protest
The violent repression of protests on 20 October continues to have relevance for democracy and human rights in Chad. The government officially recognizes that fifty people were killed, but the discovery of bodies dumped in the bush in the days since have led to questions about the full toll. The government also announced that 600 people have been arrested since the demonstration, which the government calls an “insurrection.” 401 of those people faced legal proceedings at the end of November in a mass trial without defence lawyers at Koro Toro prison, deep in the desert. However, the Chadian government has also agreed to allow an international fact-finding mission with representation from the Economic Community of Central African States, African Union, and United Nations, to investigate matters of concern relating to the 20 October protests.