COMMITTEE ON ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION CONSIDERS REPORT OF CHAD
19 August 2013
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today completed its consideration of the combined sixteenth to eighteenth periodic report of Chad on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Amina Kodjiyana, Minister for Human Rights and the Promotion of Fundamental Freedoms, said that since 1990 Chad embarked on a new era, launching the process of building a democracy and a multi-party political system. The country had enjoyed a period of stability thanks to peace agreements with neighbouring States, and oil revenues had enabled the Government to boost development and combat poverty. Chad had made significant efforts to improve its legal and institutional framework with emphasis on the principles of equity and justice. The Constitution, the Criminal Code, the Labour Code and the Electoral Code had been or were being amended to reinforce democracy and promote human rights for all. International and regional instruments which had been ratified by Chad reflected the country’s commitment to eliminating racial discrimination.
During the interactive dialogue, the Committee commended Chad on its commitment and regularity with which it submitted its periodic reports. Experts criticised a lack of detailed socio-economic data in the country’s report, and asked about the fight against corruption and impunity, as well as problems facing refugees and internally displaced persons. The delegation was asked what impact the oil boom had had on the equality of citizens in different parts of the country, and whether differences between various social and ethnic groups had grown as a result of economic benefits from exploitation of oil resources. Questions were also asked about the situation of ethnic groups and other minorities living in the country, national languages, human rights training, constitutional and legal reform, and child soldiers.
In concluding remarks, Fatimata-Binta Victoire Dah, Country Rapporteur for Chad, said that Chad should be congratulated on making the country a safer place in the past few years and on its rapid social and economic development. Chad should take into account the recommendations included in the concluding observations and make them available to the National Assembly, the police and the judiciary. Legislative reform should be accelerated and the population should be made aware of the Government’s policy on human rights so it could benefit from it.
The Delegation of Chad included representatives from the Ministry for Human Rights and the Promotion of Fundamental Freedoms, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Public Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and African Integration, and the Permanent Mission of Chad to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The next public meeting of the Committee will take place at 3 p.m. on Monday, 19 August, when it will begin its consideration of the combined twelfth to nineteenth periodic report of Burkina Faso (CERD/C/BFA/12-19).
The combined sixteenth to eighteenth periodic report of Chad can be read here (CERD/C/TCD/16-18)
Presentation of the Report
AMINA KODJIYANA, Minister for Human Rights and the Promotion of Fundamental Freedoms, began by noting that a number of partners, including civil society representatives, had been actively involved in the drafting of the report. Since its last report to the Committee, Chad had made significant efforts in improving its legal and institutional framework in order to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights, which remained a central point of Chad’s domestic and international policies. The emphasis was on the principles of equity and justice which were enshrined in Chad’s Constitution. International and regional instruments ratified by Chad, as well as domestic measures, reflected its commitment to eliminating racial discrimination and had been incorporated into national human rights legislation. The Constitution obliged institutions to protect human rights in all areas of life.
In 1990 Chad embarked on a new era, launching the process of building a democracy and a multi-party political system. The new Constitution was adopted in 1996, and legislative and presidential elections had followed. Since the 1990s different types of civil society organizations had been established, including human rights associations, trade unions, women’s associations and development groups. The country had enjoyed a period of stability thanks to peace agreements with neighbouring States. Chad had made a firm commitment to decentralization by transferring some central powers to local authorities. Oil revenues had enabled the Government to boost development by investing in education, road infrastructure, health and micro-lending initiatives aimed at combating poverty. The country had made a firm commitment to fighting against poverty and to achieving the Millennium Development Goals through a Strategic Development Plan implemented at the national level.
Government measures to eliminate racial discrimination through national legislation included several bills, some of which were in the process of being adopted, and an amendment to judicial regulations in order to guarantee the independence of judges. Corruption in the judiciary was being tackled by improving the quality of life of judges. Another draft amendment sought to protect citizens, especially women, from forced marriage and violence. Steps had also been taken to protect children from genital mutilation, violence, exploitation and trafficking. The Criminal Code was in the process of being amended and regional consultations were currently taking place. The Family Code had also been amended. The Government was anxious to ensure that there was consensus on those matters, so it continued to consult with elders, who were knowledge-holders, and religious leaders to convince them of the need to support the initiatives. The Labour Code prohibited any employer from using gender as a criterion for hiring, offering education or training, providing social benefits, disciplining an employee, or terminating a contract.
Chad respected the principle of equality in all areas of life and promoted equality in terms of reproductive health. The Electoral Code of 2000 had been amended twice to ensure that men and women were equal before the law. Now all citizens of Chad over the age of eighteen years had the right to vote in elections, regardless of gender. Candidates over the age of twenty-five could be elected to office. In 2012 free elections were held at which male and female candidates stood. At the institutional level, the principle of the exercise of power was based on the separation of the three powers: the executive, the judiciary and the legislative authorities, which carried out their duties with full respect for the rule of law and international human rights treaties. The National Framework for Political Dialogue reinforced democracy. There were currently 146 political parties in the country, which, along with civil society organizations and the media, contributed to the strengthening of democracy.
Questions by Experts
FATIMATA-BINTA VICTOIRE DAH, Country Rapporteur for Chad, said that Chad had demonstrated its willingness to comply with its international obligations, and asked the delegation to provide further information into the role that non-governmental organizations played in defending human rights. Which non-governmental organizations had been involved in the preparation of the report? Were any amendments made to the governmental report as a result of the input of civil society representatives? Had recent developments in the region, especially the Darfur crisis, had an impact on the demographic situation in Chad? The Country Rapporteur said that the report should have contained more socio-economic data, specifically statistics on education, health and employment, and indicators such as a per capita income index and wage levels, which the Committee could use to identify inequalities and recommend corrective measures. An analysis of recent demographic data would have been of enormous help to the Committee, she said, and asked when the next population census was due to take place.
The Country Rapporteur asked what impact the oil boom had had on the equality of citizens in different parts of the country, and whether differences between various social and ethnic groups had grown as a result of economic benefits from exploitation of oil resources.
Turning to education, the Country Rapporteur asked how history was taught in schools, especially events related to ethnic conflicts. At what level was human rights education introduced in Chad, and was civic education offered as a subject?
More information was requested on the court cases mentioned in the report, which would give the Committee a clearer idea of how the judicial system functioned. Out of the 1,037 case files which had been put together, how many cases had been investigated, how many had led to conclusive results, and what rulings had been handed down by the justice system? To combat corruption and impunity, an operation known as “Cobra” had been launched. How much money came out of the Cobra operation, the delegation was asked. The Committee would also like to know how many persons were tried, how many cases of corruption had been taken up, and whether those brought to justice had been given a fair trial, regardless of ethnic background, social status and gender. How had the impartiality of the judges in those cases been assured?
The Country Rapporteur asked how many judges had been trained in the newly established legal training school, what prominence was given to human rights in the legal training programme, and how would Chad go about covering its entire territory with a sufficient number of appropriately trained judges? Had judges without the appropriate level of knowledge been dismissed?
Turning to refugee camps and internally displaced persons, the Country Rapporteur asked whether Chad had taken into account recommendations made by the Human Rights Council representative. Chad had experienced many internal conflicts over the years, but things had calmed down considerably in the last four years. A number of peace agreements had been made with neighbouring countries, and the deployment of integrated security units consisting of Chad and Sudanese officers was a positive sign. What was Chad planning to do with the refugees still present in the border areas of the country?
Chad was considering adopting a law on refugees, but the process should be sped up, the Country Rapporteur said, asking about the status of that draft legislation. Concerning displaced persons, it was understood that Chad had put an end to the status of internally displaced persons. What had that meant on a day-to-day basis for those living in regions which were not their place of origin and what was the relationship between displaced persons and host populations?
An Expert commended Chad for being one of the few African countries which actively engaged with the process of submitting reports and being peer-reviewed. Several ethnic groups lived in Chad, so it was crucial for the principle of respect for all ethnicities to be upheld. Unfortunately, that was not always the case in practice. Various customary and traditional practices, such as the caste-system, had been internalized by society and were very much a reality in many parts of Africa. The drafting of new laws in Chad and the amendment of existing laws were positive signs that the country was moving in the right direction, so there was hope that discriminatory practices would eventually be eliminated. The Expert asked what other means Chad used to intensify its fight against deeply rooted discriminatory practices and raise awareness among influential leaders of ethnic and religious groups. Were police officers aware of human rights issues and principles and did they undergo specially designed training?
Much progress had been made in terms of introducing new legislation and reforming existing legislation, said another Expert. Now it was crucial for Chad to bring those efforts to fruition, so that its population could enjoy the benefits of those new measures. The creation of a national legal training school was a massive step towards raising awareness on the importance of human rights. Creating the right framework for political dialogue was another important development, which would enable Chad to reinforce the peace process.
Concerning the involvement of civil society organizations in drafting the report, which was a key issue to the Committee, more information was needed on the number of non-governmental organizations consulted and their input in the process. The Committee would also welcome more information on the national forum on human rights, which was recently organized by Chad. What impact had the forum had on the fight against racial discrimination?
Another Expert said that the report was not as lengthy and detailed as the Committee would have expected, and did not contain any data on different ethnic groups and indigenous peoples or their situation in the areas of employment, education and health.
Who were the nomadic groups and indigenous peoples identified by some non-governmental organizations and could the delegation provide demographic data on those groups, an Expert asked. What had Chad done to improve their situation? Concerning those who were dissatisfied with the rulings of community courts, what opportunities did they have to bring their case before other courts in order to obtain justice? Was there a definition of racial discrimination in the law? Was there adequate legislation to prevent racial discrimination? Chad should make a firm commitment to introduce in its national legislation a specific provision relating to Article 4 of the Convention.
An Expert asked whether progress had been made on the ground in terms of bringing about cultural changes to improve the situation of women in a number of areas, including education and illiteracy and the participation in public and political affairs. To what extent did ethnic groups living in the country participate in the political life of Chad? Which languages were regarded as official in Chad? Could the delegation elaborate on measures taken to tackle the problem of female genital mutilation, which was still practiced in Chad?
The regularity with which Chad submitted its reports to the Committee was commendable and highly appreciated, said an Expert. Chad was in a region facing serious problems, such as ethnic conflict, civil war, economic underdevelopment and refugees, which created additional challenges for the country. How many child soldiers had been removed from the army? Concerning the committee set up to examine the events of 2008, how often did its members meet and what did its work consist of?
An Expert said that many of the existing ethnic divisions in Africa went back to the colonial period, and rebellions today were the result of ethnic groups fighting for recognition and to protect their rights. National unity in countries such as Chad should go hand in hand with respect of diversity, and new policies should take into account historic ethnic divisions. Only by ensuring the equal treatment of ethnic groups as a means of strengthening and promoting national unity could we eradicate discrimination.
Response by Delegation
The delegation began their answers by emphasizing that the areas of education, rural development, social security and the judicial system were regarded by the Government as priority areas.
Chad had already made many reforms in the judicial sector to reinforce the independence of the judiciary which was guaranteed by the Constitution. A bilingual (French and Arabic) national school for legal training had been created to train magistrates, court registrars, lawyers, and administrative staff working in the penitentiary sector. Sixty students, including thirty Arabic-speaking students, were the first to graduate in 2012.
Improving the health sector was of prime concern to the highest authorities in the country. Chad had set up a free emergency healthcare system, and free retroviral treatment was provided to those living with HIV/AIDS. The President had been personally involved in the reform of the health system and held regular meetings with all stakeholders in order to discuss issues and identify possible weaknesses. Meanwhile, the Government had also laid the foundations for a pharmaceutical industry in Chad. Two fora had taken place in 2012: one on the health sector and one on the pharmaceutical sector.
Seventy per cent of the national budget came from oil revenues, and in 2005 the Government had set up a body to monitor how oil revenues were spent. Human rights associations and trade union representatives participated in the periodic meetings of that body. Oil income had given real hope to the people of Chad and had helped the country make huge progress in social and economic development. Revenues were spent on infrastructure projects, such as building schools, health centres, roads, and water towers. As a result, Chad had been completely transformed in the past five years, and, following three decades of war and human rights violations, was now moving forward and putting the past behind.
In response to the comments about statistics and data, the delegation said that further data was available but had not been included in the report.
Concerning the composition of the follow-up committee on international human rights instruments, the delegation explained that the committee, whose mission was to follow up the implementation of international instruments to which Chad was a party, had been set up by a Prime-Ministerial decree and included representatives from a wide range of ministries, Government bodies, and other associations. The committee was responsible for drafting and disseminating national reports and making recommendations on draft texts with a view to harmonizing international human rights instruments with national legislation.
Responding to a question about its national legislation incriminating racial discrimination, the delegation said that Chad’s Constitution condemned racial discrimination in all its forms, provided that Chadians of both genders were equal before the law and had the same rights, and attached importance to fundamental rights and responsibilities. In addition, the Labour Code expressly prohibited discrimination in employment, including the heads of enterprises using the gender and religion of candidates as recruitment criteria. There were decrees which protected women in employment and the rights of pregnant women in particular. An annual National Women’s Week had been established by decree.
Regarding the official languages of Chad, the delegation said that there were over 130 languages in use in the country, although the official languages recognized in the Constitution were two: French and Arabic. Chadian Arabic was spoken by over 60 per cent of the population and was the language of trade and business, while Sara was mainly spoken in the south of the country. The Government remained committed to promoting all national languages through its competent Directorate in the Ministry of National Education, although currently only French and Classical Arabic were taught at school.
Human rights education was very important, because people who knew their rights were better equipped to protect themselves. It was therefore crucial to train responsible citizens and, to that end, there were plans to carry out several awareness-raising activities through the media, theatre and the cinema, in cooperation with the Ministry for Communication and Culture. Training should also be provided to civil society organizations working with State actors. In 2009 a regional forum on human rights had been organized in Abéché, while in March 2010 the first National Forum on Human Rights had taken place in Chad. In addition, a series of workshops had been organized in 2010 to disseminate the results of the Universal Periodic Review, so the population could learn more about treaty bodies. Chad’s national radio and television broadcast programmes on human rights in both French and Arabic
Human rights education, including humanitarian law and the protection of children, was also taught to law enforcement officers. During the period 2010 to 2011, 49 gendarmes had received training, and during the period 2010 to 2013, 360 police officers were trained in human rights. A further 62 officers had also received 30 hours of training in issues relating to justice for minors and vulnerable persons.
Civic and moral education, which included human rights training, was included in primary and secondary education curricula, as was history.
The most recent national census took place in 2009 and showed a population of just over 11 million inhabitants, with 50.6 per cent being women.
The delegation said that there were no indigenous peoples in Chad but nomadic groups could be found in the west and south of the country. Nomadic groups, the majority of whom were involved in farming and camel breeding, were not being discriminated against in any way. The number of nomads was gradually decreasing as many of them were settling down because of drought conditions, so the lifestyle of many of those persons was more semi-nomadic then nomadic.
A workshop was held in March 2012 to ensure that the new Human Rights Commission was in compliance with the Paris Principles. The first draft proposal put to the Government was rejected, but there seemed to be no objections to the new draft, which was now going to be put to the Cabinet of Ministers before being transmitted to the National Assembly for adoption. The delegation said that the Committee’s concerns regarding the Paris Principles had been taken into account, particularly with regard to ensuring the independence, autonomy and specific mandate of the National Human Rights Commission.
Concerning ethnic conflict, the situation was not as worrying in Chad as it was elsewhere in Africa. Despite 30 years of war and conflict in the country, there had been no major ethnic disputes. There were 12 broad ethnic groups identified, including the two largest groups, the Sara (12.7 per cent) and Arabs (12.3 per cent). Ethnic diversity was a source of cultural wealth in Chad and contributed to solidarity and the promotion of mutual understanding.
Turning to the law on refugees, the delegation said that, as Chad had not yet finalized its legislation on refugees, it still referred to the Kampala Convention, which it had ratified in 2010.
The situation of internally displaced persons remained a challenge for Chad. The Government was currently trying to organize either their rehabilitation in host regions or their return to their region of origin. Refugee camps were protected by the Government with help from the international community.
The delegation said that there was a duality of modern and customary law in Chad. A parallel justice system based on custom still thrived, and it was not easy to change people’s practices in that regard. The phenomenon of caste-systems did exist in certain regions of the country, but it was only marginal. The State was keeping a close eye on the phenomenon to ensure that the rights of the citizens were not violated because of it.
Concerning child soldiers, Chad had signed a number of international instruments and attached great importance to the matter. In 2007 Chad and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund had signed an agreement to ensure the demobilization of all child soldiers from the army. According to that agreement, 1,030 children were to be demobilized since 2007, including 33 girls. CARE International looked after 530 of those children and the remaining 500 had been returned to their families.
Regarding compensation for women subjected to violence and rape during the events of February 2008, the delegation said that compensation had been authorized by the Government for 32 cases of rape.
The drafting of a national human rights action plan had allowed Chad to create a real benchmark for the promotion and protection of human rights, and was a testament to Chad’s desire to uphold its international commitments. The strategic side of the national action plan had been approved, but approval of its budget was still pending. The main objectives of the plan were the promotion and protection of economic, social, cultural and political rights, the strengthening of national, regional and international cooperation, capacity-building for human rights and the promotion of fundamental freedoms, and the promotion of tolerance and the right to education.
Concerning Chad’s fight against corruption and impunity, the delegation said that the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry for Good Governance had organized a range of training sessions on the application of anti-corruption laws for those employed in the justice sector. A major awareness-raising campaign on deontology, justice ethics, and the results of corruption had also been launched. Several arrests of embezzlers of public money had taken place in recent years, and legal proceedings in connection with several more cases were under way.
On the point of illiteracy, significant progress had been made thanks to the political stability which the country had enjoyed since 2009. In 2012 the Government launched an awareness-raising campaign to promote schooling for girls under the mottos “educating a girl is educating a nation” and “the place of a girl is in school, not at home”. Similar measures would continue to be taken until the desirable goals were reached.
Concerning the independence of the judiciary, there were several provisions in the Constitution which provided for that, including that magistrates could not be harassed in any way because of the way in which they carried out the public duties.
Comments by Experts
An Expert congratulated Chad on its report, which, he said, shed light on a number of issues. He questioned the statement by the delegation that Chad did not recognize indigenous peoples in the country, although it had recognized tribal peoples living in the country. Efforts to educate nomads in the north and south of the country should be intensified, bearing in mind that only one per cent of nomads were literate. A lot remained to be done to ensure that nomads had real political representation and access to education. Chad should consider introducing legislation for indigenous peoples, because there were reports about groups in the country which wanted to be recognized as indigenous peoples. Complaints had been received that the lands of nomads and semi-nomads had been handed over to oil extraction companies. As a result, many of them had to emigrate further afield in order to find pasture land.
What Chad had done to implement Article 4 of the Convention, another Expert asked, and was there was a relevant statute in place prohibiting incitement to racial or ethnic hatred. Were any prosecutions for incitement to racial or ethnic hatred taking place under the Media Law? If so, did the prohibition apply to areas other than the media, and how was the law enforced? Reports received from non-governmental organizations indicated that action had been taken against ethnic groups to stop them from criticizing the Government and asserting their rights. What was the distribution of Government positions by ethnic background?
Response by the Delegation
The delegation said that the ethnic group of the Peuls was about three per cent, not ten per cent, of the country’s population, and Peuls people lived in several other African countries. In Chad, the Peuls participated at all levels of political life.
Water sanitation, education and all other problems concerned the entire population, including the nomad groups. With regard to identifying nomads, as half of the country’s territory was covered by expanding desert, it was extremely difficult to identify cattle owners.
Contrary to other African countries, Chad had not granted land to corporations. The oil pipeline which crossed the country all the way to Cameroon was underground.
Concerning action allegedly taken against ethnic groups, the delegation said that action had been taken in accordance with a relevant court ruling against trade unionists who had gone on a prolonged strike and paralyzed the country.
The State always protected ethnic identity and took action against those found responsible for spreading ethnic propaganda.
The Government contained persons from all ethnic groups, even the smallest groups which made up less than one per cent of the country population. Non-governmental organization statements about the matter tended to be highly politicized and had little to do with the actual situation on the ground.
FATIMATA-BINTA VICTOIRE DAH, Country Rapporteur for Chad, said that Chad should be congratulated on its commitment and regular submission of periodic reports. The State party had shown a great interest in advice provided by the Committee and the delegation had demonstrated a commendable openness and spirit of cooperation with the Committee. Chad should take into account the recommendations included in the concluding observations and make them available to the National Assembly, to the police and the judiciary. Legislative reform should be accelerated and the population should be made aware of the Government’s policy on human rights, so it could benefit from it.
Chad deserved praise for making the country a safer place in the past few years and for its rapid social and economic development. The Committee encouraged Chad to continue to move forward and to ensure that any progress made was shared by everyone in the country, including all ethnic groups. Non-governmental organizations played an important role and the information they provided was very useful to the Committee and its work.
AMINA KODJIYANA, Minister for Human Rights and the Promotion of Fundamental Freedoms, said that dialogue with the Committee had been fruitful and would help Chad to move forward. The delegation was grateful for the input of Committee Experts, and said it would transmit their comments to the Government and the competent authorities back home to ensure that the fight against all forms of racial discrimination continued.
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