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Statement by the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang, in N’Djamena, Chad

3 April 2012

Good afternoon,

Thank you all very much for coming. It is my first time in Chad and it has been a great pleasure to visit your country and its immensely rich cultures and peoples. I would like to give you a brief overview of my visit.

During the past two days, I have had the honour of holding meetings with President Idriss Deby Itno and Prime Minister Emmanuel Nadingar. I also met with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs,Justice,and Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. I held discussions with the President of the Parliament and the Bureau of the National Human Rights Commission of Chad. It has also been a pleasure for me to meet with civil society organizations, members of the international community and colleagues from the UN family. I wish to thank the Government for their hospitality and availability, and for the productive working sessions I had with them.

Chad has made notable efforts to promote and protect human rights, as I was assured by the various members of the Government I met. Following the closure in December 2010 of MINURCAT, which included a human rights component serviced by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Government of Chad expressed a wish to continue hosting a human rights presence on the ground with a mandate covering the whole country.

This is why last year the High Commissioner deployed a Human Rights Advisor to Chad whose mission it is to work closely with the UN Country Team in supporting the Government, national institutions and civil society. I am grateful they have facilitated the work of the UN Human Rights Advisor. Furthermore, my interlocutors in the past two days have expressed the need to consider establishing a full-fledged stand-alone OHCHR office in order to address the very many human rights issues Chad is facing.

Human rights mechanisms and instruments

The government has taken important steps in harmonizing its national legislation with international human rights law, including the creation in December 2011 of a Governmental Committee on the implementation of international human rights instruments to which Chad is party. Chad has also established a national human rights action plan based, among other mechanisms, on the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review of the country by the Human Rights Council. One of the reasons of my visit was to attend the launch this morning of a workshop, organized with the support of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, to review that action plan.

I was informed that the revised legislation on the National Human Rights Commission has been harmonized with the Paris Principles and is awaiting formal adoption by the Council of Ministers and later, the Parliament.

Chad has ratified most of the main international human rights treaties which will provide the country with a strong framework to guide its development and amendment of national laws and policies relating to human rights. During my visit I invited the Government to also consider ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Convention on Enforced Disappearances, and the Convention on the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. I also encouraged the Government to issue a standing invitation to the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.

Food crisis

This is a crucial time for human rights in the country. I am very concerned by the food crisis and I encourage the Government to continue integrating a human rights-based approach into its humanitarian response and long-term development plans. It is also vital that the international community continues to fund essential aid programmes in Chad that will provide immediate relief for millions suffering from chronic food insecurity and acute malnutrition.

Violence against women, impunity and the judiciary

Despite the noteworthy steps taken by the Government, the judiciary has not kept pace with the evolution of Chad’s human rights obligations, and impunity remains a pressing issue. I commend the Government for its efforts to implement the main recommendations of the National Commission of Enquiry that investigated the human rights violations that took place in N’Djamena in February 2008. However, the majority of those who perpetrated gross human rights violations have not been brought to justice. The lack of capacity, under-resourcing and the issue of the independence of the judiciary remain a concern. An important reform of the judiciary, supported by the European Union, started in 2009 and I encourage the Government to increase its efforts in that direction with a view to end impunity.

Last month, Chad actively participated in the celebrations for International Women’s Day. The Day was an opportunity to remind all of us of the importance of gender equality and to recognise, acknowledge and tap into the enormous potential of women to positively impact the world around them. For them to fulfil their full potential, they need equal rights and opportunities, protection and respect. Sadly, discrimination against women and girls, and sexual and gender-based violence still persist in Chad today.

I have called on the Government to ensure that perpetrators of sexual violence are brought to justice and made accountable for their crimes., and have been assured that they will be. I would also like to encourage Chad to move forward with the adoption of a Child Protection Code, a Persons and Family Code, and the reform of the Penal Code in particular to address impunity for sexual and gender based violence, trafficking of children, entrenched harmful cultural practice and torture. The Office of the High-Commissioner stands ready to provide technical assistance to the judicial authorities in order to uphold the rule of law and end impunity.

Civil society

I have also had the opportunity to hold discussions with civil society organizations and human rights defenders who play a vital role in protecting human rights in Chad. They told me of the difficulties they face in accomplishing their activities and I have to salute their dedication and drive in those circumstances. They have raised the issue of forced evictions that has affected thousands of families and the number seems to be growing. In this regard, I stressed to the authorities the vital importance of integrating human rights principles into all development projects, and encouraged them to invite the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing to visit Chad, since this would produce useful recommendations on the international human rights standards that should apply to land clearing and relocation projects. I welcome the on-going dialogue between the Chadian authorities and civil society organizations, and I hope it will be strengthened and sustained.

The commitment of OHCHR to Chad also includes collaboration with civil society and I invite civil society organizations to work closely with our Human Rights Advisor. I also encourage civil society organizations to support the Government and OHCHR in strengthening the Chadian human rights protection system.

The difficulties Chad has faced for many years are severe but they are not insurmountable. The Government has a difficult task in improving the human rights situation in the country and my discussions of the past two days have convinced me of their political will to do so. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stands ready to help in any way we can.

Thank you.