Chad Democracy and Rights

Democracy and rights

Abbreviated as TCD by Abbreviationfinder, Chad has since ruled a military coup in 1990 by President Idriss Déby and his immediate circle. All opposition is silenced and media freedom is circumvented. Political rulers often intervene in the work of the courts.

According to the constitution, Chad is supposed to be a democracy with multi-party systems, but that is not the case. President Déby keeps a firm grip on power and the elections held are not free and fair. Free party formation applies, but regime critics run the risk of bad luck. Of the approximately 130 parties registered in the country, the vast majority are associated with the president and his party the Patriotic Rescue Movement (MPS).

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Opponents are regularly imprisoned and harassed by police and security forces. Regime-critical meetings and demonstrations are usually prohibited. On several occasions, arrested protesters have been tortured by the police and protesters have been shot dead.

In 2018, a series of constitutional amendments were adopted that further strengthened the president’s power. Among other things, the Prime Minister’s post and the Vice President were abolished. The president also formally gained influence over the appointment of judges, generals and senior executives for state-owned companies (see Current Policy).

Both government forces and the armed groups operating in Chad are guilty of serious abuses against the civilian population. The Islamist movement Boko Haram kidnaps and kills civilians. The security forces are engaged in arbitrary arrests in the search for terrorists. Few perpetrators are held accountable and the government is accused of not having control over the security forces.

Civil society is poorly developed. People who engage in issues that are sensitive to the regime, such as corruption and abuse of power, are often exposed to threats and harassment.

Most of the political elite belong to the same ethnic group as the president, zaghawa. The rest of the country’s approximately 200 people groups have little influence in society and the Christian minority in the south is marginalized.

Although some efforts have been made to get more women into political positions, their rights are poorly protected in both law and everyday life (see Social Conditions).

Corruption is widespread at all levels of society. In 2019, Chad ranked 162 out of 180 countries in the Transparency International Index of Corruption in the World (see full list here). It was three investments better than the year before.

Freedom of expression and media

Officially there is freedom of the press and opinion in Chad, but not in practice. Defamation and anti-terror laws are used to prevent media from criticizing the authorities. It happens that journalists are arrested by the police, although they are usually released fairly quickly.

The authorities’ harassment leads many journalists to apply self-censorship. Reporters Without Borders placed Chad in 123 of 180 countries in its index of freedom of the press in the world by 2020 (see the full list here). This is roughly the same location as the country has had over the last four years.

Judicial system and legal security

The judiciary is formally independent, but the government often interferes with the work of the courts. The judicial institutions are underfunded and corruption within the justice system is common. The constitutional amendments in 2018 gave the president formal influence over the appointment of judges.

In rural areas, state courts are often missing. There, disputes are settled by local leaders, such as the village chief. The ruling is based on customary law. In the north, people are also judged by Islamic Sharia law.

The conditions in Chad’s prisons are described as very bad. According to Amnesty International, a prison sentence can in many cases equate to a death penalty when prisoners have been choked to death in overcrowded cells or shot dead by police. Infectious diseases spread easily in the narrow cells where the sanitary conditions are substandard.

The death penalty has been abolished. In April 2020, the death penalty for terrorist offenses was abolished. For other crimes, the death penalty was abolished in 2016, but the government then made an exception for terrorist-related crimes. The most recent execution was executed in August 2015 when ten suspected members of Boko Haram from Nigeria were arched.