May 29, 2017

ASF in Chad: a glance at the past and toward the future

ChadChildren's rightsLegal aidLocal justiceNewsWomen's rights

Begin May, the European Union officially renewed its support for ASF’s work in Chad, allowing the organisation to continue its efforts to protect human rights in the country. This provides an opportunity to look back over some results achieved to date and look toward the challenges to come. Chad has been experiencing, for several years, strong social unrest due to a major economic crisis and to the mismanagement of government revenue. The respect of human rights itself is also developing negatively: authorities have infringed on public space and restricted the exercise of freedoms. In addition the population still encounters many obstacles when trying to access to justice. ASF has been present in the country since 2012, with the successive support of the European Union, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit. ASF first concentrated on improving social care and legal assistance for minors. More recently, it has devoted itself to supporting civil society organisations mobilised to promote access to justice, such as the Public Interest Law Center (PILC). “For me, access to justice is fundamental to harmonious socio-economic development. It is also an effective way of fighting impunity,”explains Delphine Djiraibe, PILC President. “In Africa, and particularly in Chad, impunity is the worst of the factors that hinder effective exercise of justice, as well as development.“. With the financial and technical support of ASF, PILC targeted women for its interventions, focusing on issues such as gender equality and opportunities and combating gender-based violence. “The initiatives put in place by ASF and its partners in Chad are aimed, on the one hand, at marginalised and vulnerable people, such as women and children, or prisoners, and on the other at lawyers, paralegals, community leaders, representatives of local authorities and members of civil society organisations,”explains Gilles Durdu, ASF’s outgoing country director in Chad. Both activities directed at the citizens, such as awareness-raising activities on the law or free legal counseling, and those on behalf of civil society organisations, such as training on conflict management at the community level, “Have been very successful, often exceeding our expectations.“. ASF also successfully facilitated civil society reflection around the practice of paralegalism, resulting in the realisation of a common statute of paralegals, co-sponsored by 7 organisations. This statute is a real step forward in harmonising the practice of paralegalism in the country and offering all beneficiaries the same guarantees of quality of service. Two ambitious studies were carried out in 2016. Dedicated to the issues and consequences of detention on the prison population and on Chadian society, the first made it possible to initiate a dialogue between the actors relevant to the problem, including the Chadian authorities. The second, focusing on community-based natural resource conflict management, proposes numerous recommendations for the better management of natural resources at the local level and of related conflicts. For a duration of two years, the new ASF project will be implemented in summer 2017 with the support of the European Union, in partnership with the Chadian League for Human Rights, under the title “Support for Citizen initiatives to promote and defend human rights in Chad “. ASF will continue to support civil society organizations working to defend human rights.
Picture © ASF/G. Durdu

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