Arbitrary arrest of journalist on bogus charge of "pretending to be a journalist"


On 23rd October 2017, authorities arrested Juda Allahodoum, director of the newspaper Le Visionnaire and president of the Association of the Private Press Owners in Chad, on charges of "pretending to be a journalist" and obstruction of justice. He was summoned and detained on 17th October and placed under arrest after a complaint from the prosecution concerning an article he wrote on the use of an aircraft owned by Chadian airline Air Inter 1 to transport weapons to Syria. It was first published in the Paris-based Lettre du Continent, according to Reporters Without Borders. An article in Le Visionnaire subsequently claimed that the Minister of Civil Aviation first suspended the airline's license on 2nd August, but later retracted the decision. The article further alleges that after the U.S. froze visas for Chadian citizens, the Minister of Civil Aviation was fired and the directors of Air Inter 1 placed under investigation. 

The arrest of Allahadoum was followed by a storm of protest from media associations in the country. On 23rd October, the Union of Chadian Journalists, the Association of the Editors of the Private Press, the Union of Private Radios of Chad and the association of the private press owners in Chad issued a statement denouncing the arbitrary arrest of Allahadoum and demanding his immediate release. 

Allahadoum was acquitted and released by the court on 16th November.  

Peaceful Assembly

A coalition of civil society organisations announced during a press briefing on 4th December 2017 that it will no longer accept the "systematic bans of our notices to assemble peacefully", declaring that a citizen protest against the government's "anti-social measures" will take place soon. The coalition denounced the double standard exhibited by the government when permitting peaceful assemblies, claiming that anti-government assemblies are systematically banned. Mahamat Nour Ibedou from the Convention Tchadienne de Défense des Droits de L’homme (Chadian Convention on the Protection of Human Rights) stated that: 

"If the power authorises a demonstration in their favor, we too, we have the right to protest". 

The coalition referred to the alleged authorisation of a protest against the U.S. on 26th November 2017, organised by another coalition "Touche pas à mes acquis" (Don't touch my achievements). The protest reportedly took place after a statement by the U.S. Minister of Justice accused President Idriss Déby of involvement in a corruption case, and the U.S. government's decision to add Chad to the list of countries with a travel ban. A few days later, Chad's Minister of Interior said that banning other civil society protests can be "justified" due to security concerns. According to a report by Amnesty International, the government has denied at least 65 associations the authorisation needed to form an assembly in the past two years, as reported previously on the Monitor.  

On 17th October 2017, police used tear gas to violently disperse a protest by pensioners in N’Djamena. The protesters were demonstrating against four months of arrears of coupons they should have received from the National Pension Fund of Chad.