Draconian measures muzzle Chad’s critics
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.