French

CSOs condemn restrictive legislation on freedom of association

Association 

Following the adoption of a new Constitution on 30th April 2018, which installed a fully presidential system and expanded the powers of the president, a number of laws were amended. This includes the adoption of Ordinance 023/PR/2018 of 27th June 2018 which further restricts the freedom of association in Chad.

Amnesty International and four federations of CSOs in Chad - Mouvement IYINA, Collectif des associations de défense des droits de l’homme, Collectif ça suffit and Trop c’est trop - condemned the new restrictive regulations. Published on 25th October 2018, the report "The use of national legislation to restrict the right to freedom of association" highlights several restrictions in the new legislation. This includes a ban on community and regional associations, broad discretionary powers and vague grounds to dissolve associations such as 'national unity' and 'territorial integrity', prior authorisation from the Minister of Territorial Administration before associations can establish and operate, restrictions to form federations and the prohibition of involvement in 'political activities' for human rights, student and religious associations, among other restrictions. Anyone involved in the creation and administration of unregistered associations faces a prison sentence up to five years, and a fine of XAF 3,000,000 (5,255 USD). 

Recommendations previously put forward by human rights organisations were ignored. Purrhus Banadji Bogeul of the Collectif des Associations de Droits Humains (ADH, Collective of Human Rights Associations) commented

“As we feared, the process to reform this law did not include a genuine consultation with national and international human rights organisations and this has resulted in hardening draconian provisions which unlawfully restrict the right to freedom of association."

Expression

On 19th January 2019, the internet freedom CSO Internet sans Frontières (ISF) launched an international campaign against internet censorship in Chad. Different actions - such as protests, discussions on social networks under #Maalla_Gatétou (#why did you cut off) and fundraising to purchase VPN access to internet users in the country - are foreseen to protest against interest restrictions on access to social media and the high prices for internet access. On 19th January 2019, a virtual protest was organised in Chad, as Noubarassem Blaise from ISF explained to Radio France Internationale (RFI)

"We opted for an online event. Because, as soon as you ask permission, you will be told no. There are 400,000 Chadian netizens in the world, so if the 400,000 decide to express their anger on Facebook, I believe that the whole world will be "recognised"."

The campaign will run until June 2019. As reported previously on the Monitor, access to social media platforms has been restricted in Chad since March 2018. Restrictions to access to the internet and social media platforms has been recurrent since the contested presidential elections in April 2016. 

Peaceful Assembly

According to media reports, anti-riot police dispersed student protests in Chad's capital N'Djamena during the first day of a student's strike on 22nd October 2018. The student mobilisation demanded the implementation of university services such as centres of health, university restaurants and libraries. In 2016, the government withdrew the monthly student stipends of 30.000 francs CFA (52 USD) with the aim of using those funds to construct university services. Two students were briefly arrested during the protest and later released.

On 26th October 2018, public servants suspended their strike after reaching an agreement with the government. The strike started in May 2018 to protest against salary cuts as austerity measures, as reported previously on the Monitor