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Chad: UN human rights expert alarmed by the executions of 10 people following a swift trial

GENEVA (7 September 2015) – The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, today condemned the recent executions of ten people in Chad following a swift process which may have not respected the international human rights standards. Mr. Heyns called on the Chadian authorities to reinstate the moratorium on the use of the capital punishment.

On 29 August, Chad executed ten suspected members of Boko Haram after a three-day hearing. There is no reliable information on whether the persons executed were able to use their right to appeal and clemency as the hearings were moved to a secret place on the last day.

“While I express my deepest rejection of the terrorist attacks in June and July, I encourage the Government to react to such events within the limits of its obligations under international law,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns.

“The death penalty is an extreme form of punishment and, if used at all, should only be imposed after a fair trial that respects the most stringent due process guarantees as stipulated in international human rights law,” he emphasized.

These executions come after the Chadian authorities’ announcement in July reintroducing the death penalty following the terrorist attacks carried out by Boko Haram in the capital N’Djamena between June and July.

“Prior to these events, the last official execution in the country took place in 2003,” Mr. Heyns noted, recalling that Chad had accepted last year’s recommendation on the abolition of the death penalty made by other States during the review of the country’s human rights record in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council.

In September 2014, Chad announced that it would abolish the death penalty in its legislation. However, on 30 July 2015, the National Parliament adopted a new law on terrorism and introduced the death penalty.

“In addition to the other problems with these executions, when dealing with a right as fundamental in nature as the right to life, this back and forth between having the death penalty and not having it, is arbitrary,” he added. “Instead of making life more valuable, as the presumed intention behind the executions was, such conduct cheapens the lives of all concerned.”

Mr. Heyns further called upon Chad’s authorities to amend the antiterrorist law of 30 July 2015 and to reinstate the moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to its complete abolition.

The expert’s statement has been endorsed by the UN Special Rapporteurs on torture, Juan E. Méndez; and on human rights and counter terrorism, Ben Emmerson.

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The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns (South Africa), is a director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa and Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria, where he has also directed the Centre for Human Rights, and has engaged in wide-reaching initiatives on human rights in Africa. He has advised a number of international, regional and national entities on human rights issues. Learn more, log on to:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx

The United Nations human rights experts are part of what it is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Chad: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/TDIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Johel Dominique (+41 22 928 93 98 / jdominique@ohchr.org) or write to eje@ohchr.org

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