We are deeply disturbed by the apparently disproportionate use of force – including the use of live ammunition – by defence and security forces in the context of protests in Chad this week, particularly on Tuesday when six people were reportedly killed and several wounded in the capital N’Djamena and in the second largest Chadian city of Moundou.
We understand that more than 700 people have also been arrested in relation to the demonstrations. At this point, it is unclear how many remain in detention.
As further protests and general strikes have been called to take place in the coming days, we stress that Chad remains bound by its obligations under international human rights law to protect and respect human rights, including the right to life, and to facilitate the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. The decree imposing a blanket ban on demonstrations without prior authorisation may undermine the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly. We also note that the Transitional Military Council itself declared on 20 April that it would abide by Chad’s international treaty obligations.
Defence and security forces must receive clear instructions to refrain from the use of force against peaceful protesters and to ensure that any violent incidents are handled in line with the rule of law and relevant international human rights laws and standards. These instructions must be in line with the Basic Principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement, which state in particular that firearms can only be used against individuals representing an imminent threat to life or of serious injury, and only as a matter of last resort. All those detained for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly must also be promptly released.
We also call on all relevant State institutions to conduct impartial, prompt, effective and transparent investigations into any human rights violations that may have occurred – including the apparent use of unnecessary or disproportionate force to disperse protests.
At this delicate period for the country, we stress the crucial importance of putting human rights at the centre of all efforts, and ensuring an inclusive, participatory process in charting the way forward towards a return to civilian rule and constitutional order.