Access to social media restricted for the second time in 2018

Expression

Access to certain sites, social media and messaging applications such as Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger was, for the second time this year, restricted as of 28th March. The reasons behind this second-round of restrictions are unclear. According to media reports, they occurred 24 hours after the conclusion of a forum dealing with changes to the country's political and administrative institutions, which was boycotted by the opposition and civil society. The restrictions on accessing certain sites and communication platforms also happened at a time of heightened tension within the Zaghawa ethnic group  of President Idriss Deby. Nadjo Kaina, spokesperson for the citizen movement Iyina, informed Deutsche Welte that:

"The government sees debates on social networks that are not in their favor. This is a way to prevent youth from expressing themselves freely. This reminds us of the 2016 presidential election where we lived several months without the internet. It is regrettable".

In regards to the restrictions, Arnaud Froger, head of the Africa desk for Reporters Without Borders, stated that:

"Whenever there is political or social tension in Chad, the Internet is disrupted or it is disconnected altogether. Chad is emerging as one of sub-Saharan Africa’s worst online censors. The Chadian authorities must restore full access to the Internet”.

At the time of writing, the current level of restrictions on access to these sites and applications could not be determined. 

Peaceful Assembly

On 28th May, magistrates started a three-day strike in response to an incident when security officers shot at the vehicle of a lawyer in Doba, in the south of the country, while he was transporting three of his clients who had been acquitted. On that same day, a renewed general unlimited strike hit the public sector, with labour unions demanding payment of full salaries for public servants in accordance with the agreement signed by the authorities on 14th March, which has yet to be implemented and honoured. 

Security forces prevented a protest against revisions to the constitution, which had been adopted by the government on 30th April. A heavy security presence kept any groups from being able to assemble and carry out the protest. 

Association

Three opposition members, including two from CAP-SUR, were released on 19th May after months in secret detention. National Security Agency officers allegedly took the three opposition members during the night of 17th March at the police station in Doba, where they were filing a complaint against unknown persons regarding the circulation of a leaflet, allegedly done in their name. The leaflet reportedly called on residents in Doba to incite violence and revolt against the authorities. 

In April 2018, seven civil society organisations wrote an open letter to Parliament calling on elected representatives to reject the draft constitution, especially given that the mandate of this Parliament had expired three years ago. The draft was adopted on 30th April and the new constitution establishes a presidential system and reinforces the powers of the president. The vote was boycotted by the majority of opposition members who, along with civil society groups and the Catholic Church, called for a referendum on the constitutional changes, as opposed to a vote in Parliament.