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Human Rights Council – Universal Periodic Review

5 May 2009 (afternoon)

For use of information media; not an official record

· The Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group reviewed the fulfillment of human rights obligations by Chad this afternoon, during which 49 Council members and observers raised a number of issues pertaining to the human rights situation in the country.

· Presenting the national report of Chad was ABDERAMAN DJASNABAILLE, Minister in charge of Human Rights and Promotion of Freedom, who said that ever since receiving its independence and national sovereignty in 1960 Chad found itself in a period of instability marked by armed rebellion and civil conflicts, which impeded human rights and resulted in grave human rights violations. A single party system was imposed in 1965 after which the first rebellion began and eventually civil war in 1979; the following years were marked by human rights violations, which led to the creation of a national human rights inquiry, to which the current Government lent its unwavering support. On 1 December 1990 the Patriotic Movement of Salvation came to power, thus ending the dictatorship and eventually leading to the establishment of democracy under which fundamental human rights were guaranteed, protected and promoted. A national human rights commission was established by law in 1994. The commission received violations and provided advice to the Government on all matters concerning human rights. The commission was also in line with the Paris Principles. Free democratic elections took place in 1996 and the following year for members of the legislature. This was followed to the gradual establishment of a number of national institutions including the Supreme Court, the High Court of Justice, among other bodies. Moreover, in 2005 the Ministry for Human Rights was created.

Turning to the crisis in Darfur, the speaker noted that the inter-community conflicts between members of the Janjaweed resulted in fresh waves of human rights violations leading to forced displacement, the conscription of minors in armed conflict and the rape of women, leading to a state of emergency. The Government established a Commission of Inquiry, which handed down its conclusions and served as a basis for a subsequent judicial inquiry which established a technical committee to follow up on the recommendations of the Commission.

The Government has also initiated a number of activities to ensure that all economic, social and cultural rights were respected and upheld in the country, Mr. Djasnabaille stated. In 1999, a law was enacted instituting community sharing in health costs. Access to drinking water was a matter of concern in Chad as was sanitation. Access to education was a priority for the Government and primary schooling was free and compulsory; however, there was a lack of infrastructure to support this. Secondary education was also free, however illiteracy rates remained high. A number of new education institutions were established, although there was a shortage of staff to maintain them. A review of the social situation of students was currently underway, he added. To combat illiteracy a decree was enacted which called for the setting up of a centre to address this problem. The right to education and training was provided to all without discrimination of any kind. It was also noted that there were more private and public media outlets in the country in recent years. As regards women, it was noted that discrimination against women had been seen at various levels. Since 1990, Chad began to afford more rights for women and important measures had been taken to strengthen the rights of women. A programme to assist children had also been set up, following the ratification by Chad of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In conclusion, the head of delegation said his country had always remained faithful to its international commitments and would work towards the promotion and protection of human rights and would also aim to ratify all core human rights instruments. Moreover, it was noted that the Government had responded favourably to extend a standing invitation to the United Nations Special Procedures and would do so soon. The head of delegation also called on international to continue its supprt by way of providing technical assistance.

· During the three-hour interactive discussion delegations noted a number of positive achievements of the State under review. These included the agreement entered into with UNICEF to demobilize child soldiers and steps taken to end the recruitment of child soldiers; steps taken to prevent, prohibit and protect children for all acts of torture; assistance rendered to refugees and, in particular, the deployment of 850 Chadian community police to refugee camps; the determination of the Government to maintain the rule of law; the efforts of the Commission of Inquiry; actions to establish two new appeals courts; that Chad was party to a majority of the core human rights treaties; the intention of the State to extend a standing invitation to the United Nations Special Procedures; establishment of the National Committee for the Elimination of Illiteracy; the law promoting reproductive health; and the recognition of education as a priority issue and efforts to lower the rate of illiteracy and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

· Issues and questions raised by the Working Group, comprised of the 47 members of the Council, and Observers participating in the interactive discussion related to, among other things, the position of the Government on the rights of refugees and IDPs and steps to guarantee their rights; steps being taken to demobilize and reintegrate the thousands of child soldiers serving in the Chadian National Army and to ensure an end to further unlawful recruitment of child soldiers by the ANT; steps to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers by the Justice and Equality Movement rebel group in refugee camps in Chad; whether the Government had formally criminalized in domestic law the recruitment and use of child soldiers by non-governmental armed groups; when the draft child protection code and draft code on the person and the family would be adopted and enter into force; the functioning of the juvenile justice system in Chad; and follow up measures to the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Other issues and questions asked pertained to the Government’s intention to respond to the findings of the Commission of Inquiry; measures taken or planned to further strengthen the rule of law; the forum to be organized by the Government on human rights; steps being taken to relax restrictions on media freedom; steps taken to determine the whereabouts of the missing opposition leader Ibni Saleh; measures implemented to deal with trafficking in women; measures to eliminate all practices of discrimination against women and girls; and overall progress being made to address the security situation.

· A number of delegations also posed specific recommendations. These included: to ratify the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; to apply the recommendations of the commission of inquiry of 2006; to bring to justice those responsible for abuses that took place between January 28 and February 8 2008; to abolish the state of emergency; to take additional measures to determine the whereabouts of missing opposition leader Ibni Saleh; to respect human rights of the IDPs and refugees and to take into account the new guidelines by UNHCR in that regard; to undertake more effective measures to improve the situation of women and girls, in particular those living in the conflict and refugee areas; and to remain engaged with the UNHCR and other relevant international organizations to seek a comprehensive and durable solution to the refugee and IDP situations within the territory.

Other recommendations included: To set up an action plan to prevent the illegal recruitment of children into its armed forces; to establish transparent procedures for the verification and release of children in the Chadian army; to redouble efforts to demobilize child soldiers and to put an end to the recruitment of child soldiers; to establish a minimum age of 18 for the legal age to serve in the armed forces; to continue with efforts to ensure the education of all children and take necessary steps to improve the education system; to take all possible measures with the assistance of the international community to eradicate illiteracy and to ensure access to education especially for women and girls; to eradicate possible discriminatory laws from legislation, with a view to guarantee the effective promotion and protection of the rights of vulnerable groups, such as women and children; to ratify the Convention on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, which it signed in 2007; to ratify the Convention of the Rights of Migrant Workers and All Members of Their Families; and to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The State under review was also asked to take steps to strengthen the criminal justice system and to cooperate fully with MINURCAT’s efforts in this area; to accept the request to visit by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings; to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture; to take additional steps to prevent, prohibit and protect children for all acts of torture, violence and corporal punishment, including through legislative measures; to abolish the death penalty; to take concerted efforts to improve the prison system; to close all illegal detention centres; to step up institutional and operational capacity with respect to the administration of justice to combat all forms of impunity and corruption; to ensure that those responsible for attacks against humanitarian workers did not enjoy any impunity; and that all crimes and violations against human rights defenders and journalists were effectively investigated and prosecuted, and that those responsible were brought to justice.

Additionally, Chad was asked to continue efforts to strengthen the rule of law through the completion of reforms underway; to ensure due process to all detainees; to maintain records for all persons detained by security forces; to allocate the necessary resources to allow for the functioning of an independent judiciary; to take a broad and systematic approach that included stringent selection processes for and effective supervision of conduct of public officials and judges, human rights training; to reform the judiciary and establish a true separation of powers to ensure democracy and the full respect for human rights; to take measures to establish a new legislative framework aimed at setting new freedoms for the press; to adopt concrete measures to ensure protection of journalists and human rights defenders against intimidation, death threats and enforced disappearances; and to complete the review and repeal the new press law as it appeared to go against the Chadian constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Chad was a party.

Another set of recommendations included: To ensure that appropriate penalties were applied for acts such as forced marriages and sexual violence; to amend legislation so as to ensure equal succession and inheritance rights for women; to take further measures to tackle the problem of violence against women and tackle impunity in this regard; to fully implement the 2002 legislation banning female genital mutilation and to enhance awareness raising campaigns so as to combat this practice; to consider ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; to increase cooperation with UNICEF and other United Nations bodies to establish a comprehensive strategy to ensure the protection of women and girls from all forms of violence, particularly sexual violence; to stop impunity for gender-based violence and to take immediate and concrete steps to investigate crimes and bring those responsible to justice; and to establish a special judicial mechanism within the justice system to investigate allegations of sexual violence by members of all armed groups, including the Chadian Army.

Lastly, Chad was encouraged to take all possible measures to ensure the protection of the population, particularly vulnerable groups such as women, children and the elderly population; to continue cooperation with humanitarian organizations; to draw up an electoral programme acceptable to all parties; and to reinforce strategies to achieve poverty reduction targets. Moreover, States called on the OHCHR to provide technical assistance to Chad to strengthen national institutions and for the international community provide Chad with assistance to fulfil its human rights obligations.

· Members States taking the floor during the interactive discussion were Brazil, the United Kingdom, France, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Slovenia, Germany, Pakistan, Egypt, South Africa, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, China, Senegal, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Angola and Japan.

· Observer States participating in the discussion were Algeria, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Sweden, Turkey, the United States, Tunisia, Denmark, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Norway, Austria, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Spain, the Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Latvia, Equatorial Guinea, the United Arab Emirates and the Central African Republic.

· The 10-person delegation of Chad consisted of representatives of the Office of the President, the Cabinet of the Prime Minister, the National Human Rights Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for Human Rights and Freedoms, the National Follow-up Committee and the Permanent Mission of Chad to the UN Office at Geneva.

· The three Council members serving as rapporteurs – troika - for the review of Chad are Zambia, France and Slovenia.

· In accordance with its institution-building package, the three documents on which State reviews should be based are information prepared by the State concerned, which could be presented either orally or in writing; information contained in the reports of treaty bodies and Special Procedures, to be compiled in a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and information provided by other relevant stakeholders to the UPR including non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, human rights defenders, academic institutions and research institutes, regional organizations, as well as civil society representatives, also to be summarized by OHCHR in a separate document. The reports on Chad can be found here.

· The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the report of Chad on Thursday, 7 May.

· When the UPR Working Group continues its work tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. it will review the fulfillment of human rights obligations by the Republic of Congo after which it is scheduled to adopt the report on the Central African Republic.

Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism can be located at the UPR webpage - http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx.

To access the webcast for the UPR session please visit http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/index.asp 

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