HRD arrested, three-year prison sentence for journalist overturned on appeal
Abolition of the death penalty for 'acts of terrorism'
On 28th April 2020, the National Assembly of Chad approved an amendment to the anti-terrorism law, abolishing the death penalty for acts of terrorism. The death penalty for other crimes was abolished in 2017, when the Criminal Code was amended. The last execution of the death penalty in Chad occurred in August 2015, when ten people, presumed to be members of the jihadist group Boko Haram, were shot dead a day after they were handed down the death penalty for the terrorist attack and suicide bombing in Chad's capital, N'Djamena in June 2015.
#Tchad : Après une derrière nuit en prison, Martin Inoua Doulguet est de nouveau libre depuis ce midi. Le directeur de publication de Salam info a passé plus de 8 mois en prison. @RSF_inter demande sa relaxe mardi prochain lors du délibéré de son procès en appel. pic.twitter.com/5OpDQo99EY— RSF en français (@RSF_fr) April 22, 2020
COVID-19 pandemic: police assault, interrogate journalists
On 26th March 2020, officers of the Police Mobile Intervention Unit (GMIP) assaulted journalist Aly Mahamat Bello, cameraman Abakar Mahamad Seid and their driver in N'Djamena while they were covering the enforcement of the measures taken by the government to curb the spread of COVID-19. The team, who were reporting for Télé Tchad, the state-owned broadcaster, were reportedly taken to the police station, where they were interrogated for three hours before being released. Arnaud Froger of Reporters without Borders (RSF) said:
"It is unacceptable for journalists to be attacked by the police even when they are helping to increase public awareness and combat the pandemic through their reporting. The media are more essential than ever during the current public health crisis, so we call on the Chadian authorities to guarantee their operational freedom by giving the police firm instructions that reporters must be able to work without fear of reprisals.”
Sentence of journalist overturned on appeal
On 5th May 2020, the Appeal Court of N'Djamena overturned the ruling by the Court of First Instance that sentenced journalist Martin Inoua Doulguet to a prison sentence of three years and to high fines and damages on 23rd September 2019. The Appeal Court concluded that there were 'procedural flaws' and reproached the court for prosecuting the journalist under the Penal Code in violation of the law that regulates the press, according to Inoua Doulguet's lawyers.
The journalist refused to appear during the opening of the appeal hearing and went on a hunger strike 'in protest of the various forms of manipulation' in his case. The appeal was initially registered with the First Chamber of the Appeal Court but was transferred, without any reason given, to the Fourth Chamber. The latter is under the direct control of the president of the appeal court, said Reporters without Borders (RSF).
As reported previously by the Monitor, Martin Inoua Doulguet, editor for the quarterly Salam Info, and co-accused Abdramane Boukar Koyom, editor of the satirical newspaper Le Moustik, were detained on 16th August 2019. The two were initially prosecuted for defamation, based on a complaint from the ex-minister of Health, Toupta Boguéna, for having published a story on a sexual assault complaint against the former Minister. The Public Prosecutor later amended the charges to 'association for the purpose of computer crime' as well as 'false accusations', for which the journalists were sentenced. Abdramane Boukar was not given a prison sentence.
#Tchad: les avocats de Baradine Berdeï Targuio dénoncent une détention arbitraire https://t.co/nqrrAFEgGJ via @RFI— Aurélie Bazzara-Kibangula (@Aurelie_Bazzara) February 27, 2020
Arbitrary detention of HRD
According to Amnesty International, armed masked men arrested Baradine Berdei Targuio, president of the human rights organisation Organisation Tchadienne des Droits Humains (OTDH; Chadian Organisation of Human Rights) at his home in N'Djamena on 24th January 2020, and was reportedly taken to the National Security Agency (ANS). Two days before his arrest, on 22nd January 2020, Berdei published a Facebook post alleging that the Chadian president Idriss Déby Itno 'might be seriously ill and hospitalised in France'. Berdei's lawyers said to Radio France International (RFI) that the arrest of their client was 'arbitrary and illegal'. The Minister of Justice said to news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) that Berdei was being 'prosecuted in connection to an investigation into cybercrime', more specifically for 'subversive activities through social media'.
On 10th February 2020, students of the University of N'Djamena protested to demand better conditions for university students. More specifically, the students demanded the re-establishment of scholarships and canteens, the installation of wifi at the university's campuses, and additional transport buses. According to local media, police officers used tear gas to disperse the students, reportedly injuring several of them, while six protesters were arrested.
Civic Space Developments