Chad has a long and rich history. A humanoid skull found in Borkou is more than 3 million years old. Because in ancient times the Saharan area was not totally arid, Chad's population was more evenly distributed than it is today. For example, 7,000 years ago, the north central basin, now in the Sahara, was still filled with water, and people lived and farmed around its shores. The cliff paintings in Borkou and Ennedi depict elephants, rhinoceroses, giraffes, cattle, and camels; only camels survive there today. The region was known to traders and geographers from the late Middle Ages. Since then, Chad has served as a crossroads for the Muslim peoples of the desert and savanna regions, and the animist Bantu tribes of the tropical forests.
Sao people lived along the Chari River for thousands of years, but their relatively weak chiefdoms were overtaken by the powerful chiefs of what were to become the Kanem-Bornu and Baguirmi kingdoms. At their peak, these two kingdoms and the kingdom of Ouaddai controlled a good part of what is now Chad, as well as parts of Nigeria and Sudan. From 1500 to 1900, Arab slave raids were widespread. The French first penetrated Chad in 1891, establishing their authority through military expeditions primarily against the Muslim kingdoms. The first major colonial battle for Chad was fought in 1900 between the French Major Lamy and the African leader Rabah, both of whom were killed in the battle. Although the French won that battle, they did not declare the territory pacified until 1911; armed clashes between colonial troops and local bands continued for many years thereafter.
In 1905, administrative responsibility for Chad was placed under a governor general stationed at Brazzaville in what is now Congo. Although Chad joined the French colonies of Gabon, Oubangui-Charo, and Moyen Congo to form the Federation of French Equatorial Africa (AEF) in 1910, it did not have colonial status until 1920. The northern region of Chad was occupied by the French in 1914. In 1959, the territory of French Equatorial Africa was dissolved, and four states--Gabon, the Central African Republic, Congo (Brazzaville), and Chad--became autonomous members of the French Community. On August 11, 1960 Chad became an independent nation under its first president, Francois Tombalbaye.
A long civil war began as a tax revolt in 1965 and soon set the Muslim north and east against the southern-led government. Even with the help of French combat forces, the Tombalbaye government was never able to quell the insurgency. Tombalbaye's rule became more irrational and brutal, leading the military to carry out a coup in 1975 and to install Gen. Felix Malloum, a southerner, as head of state. In 1978, Malloum's government was broadened to include more northerners. Internal dissent within the government led the northern prime minister, Hissein Habre, to send his forces against the national army in the capital city of N'Djamena in February 1979. The resulting civil war amongst the 11 emergent factions was so widespread that it rendered the central government largely irrelevant. At that point, other African governments decided to intervene.
A series of four international conferences held first under Nigerian and then Organization of African Unity (OAU) sponsorship attempted to bring the Chadian factions together. At the fourth conference, held in Lagos, Nigeria, in August 1979, the Lagos accord was signed. This accord established a transitional government pending national elections. In November 1979, the National Union Transition Government (GUNT) was created with a mandate to govern for 18 months. Goukouni Oueddei, a northerner, was named President; Colonel Kamougue, a southerner, Vice President; and Habre, Minister of Defense. This coalition proved fragile; in January 1980, fighting broke out again between Goukouni's and Habre's forces. With assistance from Libya, Goukouni regained control of the capital and other urban centers by year’s end. However, Goukouni’s January 1981 statement that Chad and Libya had agreed to work for the realization of complete unity between the two countries generated intense international pressure and Goukouni’s subsequent call for the complete withdrawal of external forces. Libya’s partial withdrawal to the Aozou Strip in northern Chad cleared the way for Habre’s forces to enter N’Djamena in June. French troops and an OAU peacekeeping force of 3,500 Nigerian, Senegalese, and Zairian troops (partially funded by the United States) remained neutral during the conflict.
Habre continued to face armed opposition on various fronts, and was brutal in his repression of suspected opponents, massacring and torturing many during his rule. In the summer of 1983, GUNT forces launched an offensive against government positions in northern and eastern Chad with Libyan support. In response to Libya's direct intervention, French and Zairian forces intervened to defend Habre, pushing Libyan and rebel forces north of the 16th parallel. In September 1984, the French and the Libyan governments announced an agreement for the mutual withdrawal of their forces from Chad. By the end of the year, all French and Zairian troops were withdrawn. Libya did not honor the withdrawal accord, and its forces continued to occupy the northern third of Chad.
Southern rebel commando groups (CODO) in southern Chad were broken up by government massacres in 1984. In 1985 Habre briefly reconciled with some of his most powerful opponents including the Chadian Democratic Front and the Coordinating Action Committee of the Democratic Revolutionary Council. Goukouni also began to rally toward Habre, and with his support Habre successfully expelled Libyan forces from most of Chadian territory. A cease-fire between Chad and Libya held from 1987 to 1988, and negotiations over the next several years led to the 1994 International Court of Justice decision granting Chad sovereignty over the Aouzou strip, effectively ending Libyan occupation.
However, rivalry between Hadjerai, Zaghawa and Gorane groups within the government grew in the late 1980s. In April 1989, Idriss Deby, one of Habre's leading generals and a Zaghawa, defected and fled to Darfur in Sudan, from which he mounted a Zaghawa-supported series of attacks on Habre (a Gorane). In December 1990, with Libyan assistance and no opposition from French troops stationed in Chad, Deby’s forces successfully marched on N’Djamena. After 3 months of provisional government, Deby’s Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS) approved a national charter on February 28, 1991, with Deby as president.
In the next 2 years, Deby faced at least two coup attempts. Government forces clashed violently with rebel forces (including the Movement for Democracy and Development, MDD, National Revival Committee for Peace and Democracy (CSNPD), Chadian national Front (FNT) and the Western Armed Forces, FAO) near Lake Chad and in southern regions of the country. Earlier French demands for the country to hold a National Conference resulted in the gathering of 750 delegates representing political parties (legalized in 1992), the government, trade unions and the army to discuss creation of a pluralist democratic regime.
However unrest continued, sparked in part by large-scale killings of civilians in southern Chad. The CSNPD, led by Kette Moise and other southern groups entered into a peace agreement with government forces in 1994, which later broke down. Two new groups, the Armed Forces for a Federal Republic (FARF) led by former Kette ally Laokein Barde and the Democratic Front for Renewal (FDR), and a reformulated MDD clashed with government forces 1994-95.
Talks with political opponents in early 1996 did not go well, but Deby announced his intent to hold presidential elections in June. Deby won the country’s first multi-party presidential elections with support in the second round from opposition leader Kebzabo, defeating General Kamougue (leader of the 1975 coup against Tombalbaye). Deby’s MPS party won 63 of 125 seats in the January 1997 legislative elections. International observers noted numerous serious irregularities in presidential and legislative election proceedings.
By mid-1997 the government signed peace deals with FARF and the MDD leadership and succeeded in cutting off the groups from their rear bases in the Central African Republic and Cameroon. Agreements also were struck with rebels from the National Front of Chad (FNT) and Movement for Social Justice and Democracy in October 1997. However, peace was short-lived, as FARF rebels clashed with government soldiers, finally surrendering to government forces in May 1998. Barde was killed in the fighting, as were hundreds of other southerners, most civilians.
Since October 1998 Chadian Movement for Justice and Democracy (MDJT) rebels, led by Youssuf Togoimi, have skirmished with government troops in the Tibesti region, resulting in hundreds of civilian, government, and rebel casualties, but little ground won or lost. No active armed opposition has emerged in other parts of Chad, although Kette Moise, following senior postings at the Ministry of Interior, mounted a smallscale local operation near Moundou which was quickly and violently suppressed by government forces in late 2000.
Deby, in the mid-1990s, gradually restored basic functions of government and entered into agreements with the World Bank and IMF to carry out substantial economic reforms. Oil exploitation in the southern Doba region began in June 2000, with World Bank Board approval to finance a small portion of a project aimed at transport of Chadian crude through a 1000-km. buried pipeline through Cameroon to the Gulf of Guinea. The project establishes unique mechanisms for World Bank, private sector, government, and civil society collaboration to guarantee that future oil revenues benefit local populations and result in poverty alleviation. Success of the project will depend on intensive monitoring efforts to ensure that all parties keep their commitments. Debt relief was accorded to Chad in May 2001.
Deby won a flawed 63% first-round victory in May 2001 presidential elections after legislative elections were postponed until spring 2002. Six opposition leaders were arrested (twice) and one opposition party activist was killed following the announcement of election results. However, despite claims of government corruption, favoritism of Zaghawas, and security forces abuses, opposition party and labor union calls for general strikes and more active demonstrations against the government have been unsuccessful.
Today, Chad is a centralized republic dominated by a strong presidency. The Government remained unable to exert effective control over the Tibesti Massif in the northwestern region of the country where former Defense Minister Youssouf Togoimi began a rebellion in 1998.
INCIDENCE OF CRIME
Chad has not participated in U.N. Surveys nor has it contributed to INTERPOL. However, a qualitative statement about crime is given in the U.S. State Department's Counsular Information Sheet. Pickpockets and purse snatchers are endemic in market and commercial areas. Burglary and vehicle thefts increase during times of political instability. Expatriate residences have been targeted for armed robbery, and some foreigners have been assaulted in the process.
Chad's legal system was based on French civil law, modified according to a variety of traditional and Islamic legal interpretations. In the late 1980s, the civilian and military court systems overlapped at several levels, an effect of Chad's years of warfare. Civilian justice often deferred to the military system, and in some areas, military courts--many of which were established by rebel armies during the late 1970s--were the only operating courts. In the 1980s, the government was working to reassert civilian jurisdiction over these areas. Chad also had an unofficial but widely accepted system of Islamic sharia courts in the north and east, which had operated for a century or more. Most cases involved family obligations and religious teachings. In other areas, traditional custom required family elders to mediate disputes involving members of their descent group, i.e., men and women related to them through sons and brothers. Civil courts often considered traditional law and community sentiment in decisions, and the courts sometimes sought the advice of local leaders in considering evidence and rendering verdicts.
The army, Gendarmerie (State Police Force), police, National and Nomadic Guard (NNG), and intelligence services are responsible for internal security. Officers from President Deby's ethnic group dominate the Rapid Intervention Force (FIR) and the National Security Agency (ANS), a counterintelligence organization that has acted as an internal political police force. The National Army, Gendarmerie, the NNG, and the Republican Guard (the Presidential Security Force) were deployed to fight the rebels. The various military and security forces generally are responsive to the civilian control of the Ministry of Defense (ANS and FIR), Ministry of the Interior (Gendarmerie and NNG), and the Presidency (Republican Guard and the Presidential Security Force). In 1999 the Government disbanded the Special Weapons and Tactics Unit (RAID), a specialized police unit under the Ministry of Interior's authority, which had committed numerous human rights abuses in previous years. In 2000 a new chief of the Police Rapid Action Company (CARP) dismissed corrupt members of the unit; however, during the year, there were no similar actions taken. During the year, members of the CARP tortured, beat, and raped detainees.
The Government's human rights record remained poor, and serious problems have continued. The Government limited citizens' right to change their government. State security forces have committed extrajudicial killings and disappearances, and they have continued to torture, beat, and abuse persons. The authorities beat members of the opposition. Security forces have continued to use arbitrary arrest and detention; the authorities have arrested opposition leaders. Although the Government has detained and convicted some members of the its security forces implicated or accused of criminal acts, it rarely has prosecuted or punished members of the security forces who committed human rights abuses. The Government also did not prosecute or punish security force personnel accused in previous years of killings, rape, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention. Lengthy pretrial detention remained a problem. Security forces used illegal searches and wiretaps and has monitored the contents of private mail. Local authorities have arrested and beaten election observers. Officially sanctioned extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals by police, customs officers, and gendarmes have continued, although some members of the security forces who committed such acts have been taken into custody for judicial adjudication. Units of the armed forces have been responsible for the extrajudicial killings of suspected members of the northwestern rebellion in the Tibesti. The extrajudicial killings rarely have been directed centrally; they usually have occurred outside the capital, where there is less control over local armed forces.
The Constitution and the Penal Code prohibit arbitrary arrest; however, security forces continue to use arbitrary arrest and detention. A judicial official must sign arrest warrants; however, the Government often did not respect this requirement. Members of the CARP have been responsible for numerous cases of arbitrary arrest and detention; they beat, tortured, and raped detainees without sanction by government authorities. In 2000 the CARP chief was replaced, and one officer was fired for abuses; however, authorities took no action against him by year's end. Lengthy pretrial detention has been a problem. Persons accused of crimes may endure up to several years of incarceration before being charged or tried, especially those arrested for felonies in the provinces, who must await remand to the overcrowded prison in N'Djamena. The Government has continued to hold political detainees. Political detainees either eventually are released or they disappear. On two occasions in May, authorities arrested and detained briefly six opposition candidates for political reasons.
The Chadian judicial system and the criminal code were based on the French criminal justice system. The traditional system of law presided over by local chiefs and sultans, however, has been preserved for property and family affairs and for cases of local petty crime. These customary courts, as they were called, have been described as generally effective and fair in rendering sentences. In theory, decisions of the customary courts are subject to appeal to the regular courts.
In 1999 President Deby swore in 16 members of the Supreme Court as well as 9 members of the Constitutional Court. In May 2000, the National Assembly enacted legislation calling for the election of 15 members of the High Court of Justice; however, they are appointed by President Deby and the president of the National Assembly. The court began formal operations on May 24, 2000, after the justices were appointed. Although the establishment of these bodies fulfilled the Constitution's mandate for a judicial branch, some of the members of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court were appointed by the Government and not elected by citizens as required by the law, which weakened the independence of the courts. Also due to inadequate funding, the courts did not begin full operations until October 2000. In addition to the Supreme Court, a court of appeals in N'Djamena reviews decisions of lower courts, and a special court of justice established in 1984 hears cases involving the misappropriation of public funds. Criminal courts convene in N'Djamena, Sarh, Moundou, and Abéché, and criminal judges travel to other towns when necessary. In addition, each of the fourteen prefectures have a magistrate's court, in which civil cases and minor criminal cases are tried. In 1988 forty-three justices of the peace served as courts of first resort in some areas.
Normal protections against arbitrary arrest, as well as restraints on the actions of police and judicial authorities, were embodied in the criminal code statutes. Detention without being charged was permitted only for persons under suspicion of having committed a crime. In theory, the rights of detainees included access to counsel and prompt notification of the charges under which they were being held. The death penalty could only be imposed after a competent court had established guilt and rendered a verdict. In actual practice, the judicial system has been severely undermined by the breakdown of local government throughout much of the country. According to human rights reports of the United States Department of State, most Chadians do not get speedy trials, and many are held for extended periods before being released without trial. There are only a few trained lawyers, judges, and other court personnel in the country, and law books are not widely available. Although in the late 1980s the Habré government was trying to rebuild the judicial system, the lack of individuals with the necessary legal training hampered the appointment of judges and examining magistrates.
All judges and judicial officers are appointed by the president. The courts are subject to the influence of the executive branch, especially in political and internal security cases, and individuals regarded as endangering the security of the state are subject to indefinite detention without trial. In 1987 the independent human rights group, Amnesty International, reported the detention of several former Chadian exiles upon their return to Chad, as well as the detention of relatives of government opponents. Although there are no reports of disappearances, nor confirmed reports of torture in 1987, Amnesty International expressed concern over the government's failure to account for a number of people who had disappeared after being detained in earlier years.
The Constitution mandates an independent judiciary; however, the judiciary was ineffective, underfunded, overburdened, and subject to executive interference. In practice government officials and other influential persons often enjoyed immunity from judicial sanction. In April 2000, the Chief Justice demoted two Supreme Court justices, Maki Adam and Ruth Romba, reportedly because they made a decision adversely affecting the interests of the Chief Justice.
The Constitution mandates a Superior Council of Magistrates to act as a guarantor of judicial independence, and during the year 2000, the Council sanctioned several judges for malfeasance. The national judicial system operates with courts located in provincial capitals. The N'Djamena Court of Appeals is supposed to conduct regular sessions in the provinces, but funding limitations did not permit the court to make periodic circuit visits.
Applicable law can be confusing, as courts often tend to blend the formal French-derived legal code with traditional practices. Residents of rural areas often lack effective access to formal judicial institutions. In most civil cases, they rely on traditional courts presided over by village chiefs, canton chiefs, or sultans. Decisions may be appealed to a formal court.
Official inaction and executive interference continued to plague the judiciary. Long delays in trials have resulted in lengthy pretrial detention. The 48-hour temporary police custody period after which a detainee should be released if not brought before a judge was not respected. Detainees are not released but remained in jail due to lack of evidence, witnesses, or poor preparation of their cases.
The salaries of judicial officials often are low. Although the Government has stated that the strengthening and reform of the judiciary are top priorities, it made little progress in these areas by year's end.
The Government has not enforced the Military Code of Justice since the 1979-80 civil war, and courts-martial instituted early in the Deby regime to try security personnel for crimes against civilians no longer operated by year's end.
Prison conditions are harsh and life threatening. Prisons are characterized by serious overcrowding; poor sanitation; inadequate food, shelter, and medical facilities. The Government has reported that there are more than 2,000 prisoners in 46 prisons throughout the country with nearly 700 in N'Djamena's Central Prison. The prison, built to hold 350 prisoners, was scheduled to be replaced during the year by a newer facility; however, construction of the new prison was behind schedule and only approximately 35-40 percent of the work was finished by year's end. The law provides that a doctor must visit each prison three times a week; however, there are credible reports that this was not done. The law authorizes forced labor in prison.
Female prisoners usually are separated from males; however juvenile males are held with adult male prisoners. Pretrial detainees and political prisoners are held with the general (criminal) prison population.
Domestic violence against women is believed to be common, although no statistics are available. By tradition wives are subject to the authority of their husbands, and they only have limited legal recourse against abuse. Family or traditional authorities may act in such cases; however, police rarely intervene.
Rape, prostitution, and sexual harassment are all problems. Rape and prostitution are prohibited by law; however, sexual harassment is not.
FGM, which is condemned widely by international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, is widespread and deeply rooted in tradition. A 1995 U.N. study estimated that approximately 60 percent of all women have undergone FGM; the practice is especially prevalent among ethnic groups in the east and south, where it was introduced from Sudan. All three types of FGM are practiced; the least common but most dangerous and severe form of FGM, infibulation, is confined largely to the region on the eastern border with Sudan. FGM usually is performed prior to puberty as a rite of passage and an occasion during which many families profit from gifts from their communities.
The law considers any citizen under the age of 18 years as a minor. Sexual relations, even with consent, before the age of 13 years are considered to be rape and the prescribed sentence is for hard labor in perpetuity; the age of consent is 14. Rape of children and child abuse are problems.
FGM is practiced commonly on young girls.
Although the law prohibits sexual relations with a girl under the age of 14, even if married, this law rarely is enforced, and families arrange marriages for girls as young as the age of 12 or 13; the minimum age for engagements is 11 to 12. There are some forced marriages, for the financial gain of a dowry. Many young wives then are forced to work long hours of physical labor for their husbands in fields or homes.
Internet research assisted by Eugene Young Lee