UN condemns use of live ammunition during Chad protests
Cape Town - Four people were injured over the weekend as demonstrators, mostly made up of the youth, took to the streets in protest against Chad’s military rule.
The activists marched peacefully in the cities of Sarh and Koumra in southern Chad on Saturday morning, Africanews reported on Sunday.
Several witnesses said security forces fired tear gas and that passing military vehicles fired live ammunition into the crowds, injuring at least four people. One person was reported to be seriously wounded. Some were arrested, although it is not yet clear how many people have been detained.
A military council seized power after President Idriss Déby was killed, a move that the opposition politicians have called a “coup”.
The 68-year-old Déby died of injuries sustained while fighting rebels in the north of the Sahel. Déby had been in power for three decades and was looking to extend his three-decade rule despite mounting calls for political change.
At least five people were killed last week as demonstrators took to the streets on Tuesday, demanding a return to civilian rule, according to international broadcaster Al Jazeera.
Human rights organisation Amnesty International urged authorities to launch impartial and independent investigations into the circumstances surrounding the deaths.
The UN rights office, OHCHR, condemned the killings, saying it was deeply disturbed by security forces’ use of live ammunition during recent protests.
With further protests and general strikes due to take place in the coming days, OHCHR spokesperson Marta Hurtado said that Chad remains “bound by its obligations” under international human rights law to “protect and respect human rights”, including the right to life, and to “facilitate the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly”.
She told journalists at a press briefing in Geneva last week that a blanket ban on demonstrations may “undermine the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly”.
She pointed out that the transitional military council itself had declared on April 20 that it would abide by Chad’s international treaty obligations, and she urged the authorities to do so.
The government of Chad last week issued a statement banning protests, saying no demonstrations that could lead to disorder were allowed while the country was still in mourning.
Defence and security forces must receive clear instructions to refrain from the use of force against peaceful protesters, said the UN official, adding that the handling of violent incidents must be aligned with the rule of law and relevant international human rights laws and standards.
Firearms should only be used against individuals representing “an imminent threat to life or of serious injury, and only as a matter of last resort”, Hurtado said, adding that all those detained for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly must also be “promptly released”.
“We also call on all relevant state institutions to conduct impartial, prompt, effective and transparent investigations into any human rights violations that may have occurred, including the apparent use of unnecessary or disproportionate force to disperse protests,” she said.