Dra­co­nian mea­sures muz­zle Chad’s crit­ics

Cape Times - - WORLD NEWS - MEL FRYKBERG

THE CHADIAN gov­ern­ment is us­ing in­creas­ingly re­pres­sive mea­sures against hu­man rights ac­tivists, jour­nal­ists, union­ists, and civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions who dare to crit­i­cise N’Dja­mena.

Us­ing re­pres­sive laws and a dra­co­nian in­tel­li­gence ser­vice, the gov­ern­ment is muz­zling and ham­per­ing the work of crit­ics as they face in­creas­ing danger from the state, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional said in a re­port pub­lished yes­ter­day.

“Se­cu­rity forces and the in­tel­li­gence agency are over­see­ing a bru­tal crack­down which... is now threat­en­ing to steer the coun­try back to the dark days of re­pres­sion,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional West and Cen­tral Africa di­rec­tor.

The re­port doc­u­ments how the au­thor­i­ties have over re­cent years re­sponded to grow­ing pub­lic dis­con­tent with re­stric­tions on the rights to free­dom of ex­pres­sion, as­so­ci­a­tion and peace­ful assem­bly.

Over the past two years, 10 web­sites crit­i­cal of the gov­ern­ment have been blocked and 65 as­so­ci­a­tions re­fused au­tho­ri­sa­tion for peace­ful protests, said Amnesty. The crack­down against crit­ics and dis­si­dents started at the be­gin­ning of last year ahead of the April pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

Chad’s Min­is­ter of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity and Im­mi­gra­tion de­clared un­reg­is­tered so­cial move­ments and me­dia plat­forms as il­le­gal and used this ban to jus­tify the ar­rest of civil so­ci­ety lead­ers, in­clud­ing Nadjo Kaina and Ber­trand Sol­loh of Iy­ina.

The na­tional agency for se­cu­rity (ANS) has been tar­get­ing and ar­rest­ing hu­man rights ac­tivists, de­tain­ing them in un­of­fi­cial de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties with­out ac­cess to fam­ily and le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

Po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists and crit­ics have been threat­ened in anony­mous phone calls and tar­geted by sur­veil­lance with the Min­is­ter of Se­cu­rity con­firm­ing this spy­ing was “part of the se­cu­rity ser­vices’ job”.

So­cial me­dia plat­forms, in­clud­ing What­sApp and Face­book, were banned last year be­fore the gen­eral elec­tions and re­main cen­sored as jour­nal­ists were jailed or re­ceived hefty fines for crit­i­cal re­port­ing.

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