261 people sentenced to prison for “Black Thursday” protests of 20th October 2022

As reported previously on the Monitor, transitional authorities and security forces in Chad violently repressed the mass protests against the extension of the military transitional period on 20th October 2022, also known as “Black Thursday”, in which, officially, at least 50 people, possibly many more, were killed and at least 300 people injured. According to civil society groups and opposition, arrests continued in the weeks following the protests, creating an atmosphere of fear. In this context, several opposition leaders and civil society activists, in particular members of the platform Wakit Tama, saw themselves forced to hide or flee the country. This includes Succès Masra, leader of opposition party Les Transformateurs, one of the seven opposition parties that were suspended for a period of three months following the protests, and Max Loalngar, coordinator and spokesperson for Wakit Tama.

During Chad’s second periodic review by the Committee against Torture (CAT), a treaty body of 10 independent experts who monitor the implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its state parties, in early November 2022, experts expressed their concerns about the repression of the protest of 20th October 2022. According to one independent expert, based on several reports on the repression he received, “between 50 and 150 people were reportedly killed, 150 to 184 people disappeared, approximately 1,369 were arrested and 600 to 1,100 people were “deported to Koro Toro high security prison”, a notorious maximum-security prison located in the desert, 600 km away from N’Djamena.

Peaceful Assembly

261 people sentenced to prison for participation in the “Black Thursday” protests of 20th October 2022

On 11th November 2022, Chad’s Justice Minister said that a total of 621 people had been arrested in relation to the 20th October protests, including 83 minors. Between 29th November and 4th December 2022, a mass trial of 401 of those arrested took place at the correctional chamber of Koro Toro, a trial the Chadian Bar Association called “a parody of justice”. A total of 261 people were sentenced to prison sentences ranging from two to three years on several charges including taking part in an unauthorised gathering, destroying belongings, arson and disturbing public order. 80 people were given a suspended prison sentence, while 59 were acquitted. On 8th December 2022, 80 minors were provisionally released from prison.

Furthermore, Samira Daoud of Amnesty International pointed out many irregularities of the mass trial:

“The absence of lawyers, families of the accused and access to hearings denied to journalists, raise serious concerns about respect for the right to a fair trial, which includes in particular the right to prepare one's own defense and the right to a trial audience.” (translated from French)

Military transitional government accepts an international commission of inquiry, credibility questioned

The Chadian military transitional government accepted in early November 2022 the establishment of an international commission of inquiry into the protests of 20th October 2022, overseen by the regional Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). Although the transitional military authorities and ECCAS initially mentioned that the commission would include representatives of the United Nations, the African Union and perhaps the International Organisation of the Francophonie besides ECCAS representatives, the Commission consisted only of three ECCAS representatives from Burundi, Sao Tomé and Principe and DRC at the end of December 2022, when the mission was almost concluded, which has raised doubts on the credibility of the commission.


Groupings or coalitions between civil society organisations (CSOs) and political parties prohibited

On 16th November 2022, the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation of Chad’s transitional government, Limane Mahamat, said in a statement, referring to current laws and regulations, that any grouping or coalition between political parties and CSOs is forbidden as they do not share the same objectives. He further said that political parties and CSOs often elude their objectives and “appear as real factors of division of our populations, subtly escaping the control of the State”. Max Loalngar of Wakit Tama commented to Deutsche Welle:

"Civil society organisations in no way seek power which is true, but the objective they pursue is the well-being of our communities and people. And that is also what political parties are for. So to say that civil society and political parties have different objectives is simply to show unacceptable blindness.” (translated from French)

As reported previously on the Monitor, the activities of Wakit Tama, a coalition of civil society groups and opposition parties who have been at the forefront of protests against the military junta, were banned following the protests of 20th October 2022. Additionally, the activities of seven opposition parties were suspended for a period of three months.