state of civil and political rights: Not free
constitution: 31 March 1996, approved by referendum
legal system: based on French and customary laws
legislative system: unicameral National Assembly
judicial system: Supreme Court; Constitutional Council; High Court of Justice; Court of Appeal; Criminal Courts; Magistrate Courts
religion: 54% Muslim; 20% Catholic; 14% Protestant; 7% Animist
death row: 35
year of last executions: 29-8-2015
death sentences: 0
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)
In Chad, capital crimes include aggravated murder and other offenses resulting in death, terrorism-related offenses, treason, spying, military offences, and other offenses not resulting in death.
The 1996 Constitution makes no reference to the death penalty. However, Article 17, as amended in July 2005, states that, “the human person is sacred and inviolable. Every person has the right to life, physical integrity, safety, freedom, and the protection of his/her private life and property”, implying that the death penalty could be challenged as unconstitutional. Under Article 222 of the Constitution, lawfully ratified and published treaties, provided they are respected by the other party, have an authority superior to national legislation.
There have been no reported executions since 2003. However, Chadian courts have continued to hand down death sentences. In November 2013, after ten consecutive years without carrying out executions, Chad became a de facto abolitionist country. In 2013, no death sentences were imposed in Chad, while two men were sentenced to death for murder in 2012.
Reports indicate that there are at least 35 persons currently under sentence of death in Chad.
After the termination of the Military Court in 1991, a de facto moratorium was in effect in Chad until November 2003, when 9 men were executed within a period of 4 days, although they had not exhausted their appeals. Following the sharp criticism and censure generated by the 2003 executions, all death penalties were commuted to life sentences. There have been no reported executions since 2003. However, Chadian courts have continued to hand down death sentences.
In November 2012, Chad was targeted by a mission of Hands Off Cain and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT), aimed at favouring the abolitionist process internally and obtaining a favorable vote on the UN Resolution for the universal moratorium on executions.
In September 2014, the Chadian government adopted a penal code aimed at abolishing the death penalty and replacing it by life imprisonment with no possibility of conditional release in future.
The war on terror
Chad has taken steps to increase internal security since suicide attacks struck a school and a police building in N'Djamena in June 2015, killing 38 people, and again in July, killing 15 in a market. Chad has helped spearhead a major regional offensive launched in early 2015 to fight Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
On 30 July 2015, the National Assembly passed a stringent anti-terror bill. The law was approved unanimously, with 146 votes for and zero against, including zero abstentions. The government's draft law had raised fears among opponents and rights activists that it might be used to curtail freedoms, and legislators took its proposals much further, toughening sentences and giving the police greater powers in cases of suspected terrorism. Beyond capital punishment for the most serious cases, penalties for lesser terror offences were increased to life from the current maximum of 20 years, and the duration for which suspects can be held by police without charge will be increased from 48 hours to 30 days, renewable twice.
On 29 August 2015, Chad resumed executions after twelve years of suspension. Ten members of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram were executed by firing squad, marking the first use of the death penalty since the country bolstered its anti-terror measures in July. They were shot at a firing range in Massaguet, a city about 60 km northeast of the capital N'Djamena. The defendants were accused of criminal conspiracy, killings, wilful destruction with explosives, fraud, illegal possessions of arms and ammunition, as well as using psychotropic substances. Among the executed was Mahamat Moustapha, a 30-year-old Cameroonian who was accused of masterminding a series of attacks on N'Djamena.
On 7 September 2015, independent United Nations human rights experts condemned the executions following a swift process that may not have met international standards. “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,” said the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns. Heyns noted that the last official execution in Chad took place in 2003, and called on the Chadian authorities to reinstate the moratorium on the use of capital punishment. The UN Special Rapporteurs on torture, Juan E. Méndez, and on human rights and counter terrorism, Ben Emmerson, also endorsed the statement by Christof Heyns.
In March 2014, in its oral response to the recommendations received under the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council, the Government had accepted the following: the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; taking appropriate measures to abolish the death penalty for all crimes from its criminal justice system; promoting an official moratorium on executions, and commuting death sentences to imprisonment.
On 18 December 2016, for the third time, Chad had voted in favour of the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.