The International Human Rights Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly
Chad is a State Party to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 21 governs the right of peaceful assembly, providing that:
The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Chad is also a State Party to the First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, which allows individuals to petition the Human Rights Committee if they believe the State has violated their human rights as protected under the Covenant.
At regional level, Chad is a State Party to the 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. Article 11 provides as follows:
Every individual shall have the right to assemble freely with others. The exercise of this right shall be subject only to necessary restrictions provided for by law in particular those enacted in the interest of national security, the safety, health, ethics and rights and freedoms of others.
Chad is a State Party to the 1998 Protocol on the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, but has not accepted the right of petition to the Court by individuals and non-governmental organisations.
The Domestic Legal Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly
Article 27 of the 1996 Constitution of Chad guarantees "to all" the rights of assembly and to demonstrate. These rights
may only be limited for the respect of the freedoms and the rights of others and by the imperative to safeguard the public order and good morals. ... The law determines the conditions of their exercise.
Two legal instruments from the 1960s regulate assemblies in Chad: a 1962 Ordinance on unlawful gatherings and a 1962 decree on demonstrations on the public highway.
The Legal Framework on Use of Force During Assemblies
The Use of Force
International Legal Rules
Under international law the duty on the State and its law enforcement agencies is to facilitate the enjoyment of the right of peaceful assembly. According to the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials:
In the dispersal of assemblies that are unlawful but non-violent, law enforcement officials shall avoid the use of force or, where that is not practicable, shall restrict such force to the minimum extent necessary.
All force used by police and other law enforcement agencies must be necessary for a legitimate law enforcement purpose and proportionate to that purpose.
The 1962 Ordinance allows the police to use force to disperse an unauthorised gathering. In addition, Article 123 of the 2017 Criminal Code prohibits in any public place any armed gathering or "any unarmed gathering that could disturb the public order". A crowd is said to be armed when the individual members carry or conceal weapons or any objects, in plain sight or not, "for use as weapons".
The Use of Firearms
International Legal Rules
According to the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles, in the dispersal of violent assemblies, a law enforcement official may only use a firearm against a specific individual where this is necessary to confront an imminent threat of death or serious injury or a grave and proximate threat to life.
There is no specific regulation of police use of firearms in Chad.
State Compliance with its Legal Obligations
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In its 2014 Concluding Observations on Chad, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern about "reports of numerous obstacles faced by many human rights defenders in exercising the freedom to demonstrate".
Views of Civil Society
In 2020, Freedom House reported that the authorities used pandemic-related measures to limit assemblies and target political opponents.
Constitutional guarantees of free assembly are not upheld by authorities, who routinely ban gatherings and persecute organizers. In February 2020, authorities used tear gas to disperse a N'Djamena rally held by university students, injuring at least 11 demonstrators. In August, authorities banned an opposition march calling on the government to address insecurity in southern Chad.
The authorities also sought to limit assemblies using COVID-19-related restrictions. In late November 2020, authorities used those measures to arrest organizers and participants of a civil society–led forum on political reform.
In April 2020, Chad faced an uncertain future as the son of the late President Idriss Deby Itno took power in what the opposition called a coup while Western allies that rely on the country’s military strength pleaded for stability.