Chad: civil society is rallying together for better access to justice

ChadLegal aidNews

N’Djamena (Chad), 12 November 2014 – The population of Chad still faces numerous obstacles when trying to obtain access to justice. Given this situation, organisations of civil society are taking action: they are making citizens more aware of their rights, offering them free legal advice, judicial assistance or mediation services. Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) is supporting three of these organisations in their efforts to protect human rights.

Despite the reforms undertaken in recent years at a judicial and legislative level, accessing justice remains difficult for many citizens of Chad, especially women, children, persons in detention and those living in rural regions. Customary norms are still very influential and there are very few lawyers in the country. In fact, Chad only has around one hundred lawyers for a population of more than 12 million, with the vast majority working in the capital.

Luckily the population can count on the support of organisations of civil society (OSCs) committed to the promotion and protection of human rights. They offer legal advice and judicial assistance services, ranging from providing information to assistance before the courts,” explains Ben Kabagambe, ASF’s Programme Coordinator in Chad. ASF has been providing technical and financial support to three of these organisations for some months: the AFJT (Association des Femmes Juristes du Tchad/Women Lawyers’ Association of Chad), the APLFT (Association pour la Promotion des Libertés Fondamentales au Tchad/Association for the Promotion of Fundamental Freedoms in Chad), and the PILC (Public Interest Law Center).

This support will make it possible to strengthen services to the population as well as allowing the OSCs to better formulate, implement and evaluate their projects and to coordinate between themselves. Delphine Djiraibé, Senior lawyer at the PILC says, “This partnership will help us to perform two actions which are especially important to us: to establish a drop-in centre and to undertake a study on how to bring people to participate in their judicial procedure.”

La clinique juridique de Moissala (Sud du Tchad) © ASF
The Moissala legal clinic (southern Chad)

The planned actions will contribute to reforming justice, to promoting good governance and the state of law in Chad. And I’m pleased to note that this project will cover a large part of Chadian territory“, confirms Pierre Houpikian, Consultant and Head of the Policy Department of the EU Delegation to Chad, at the project launch ceremony in N’Djamena last month.

Mahamat Abderaman, Deputy Secretary-General of the Ministry of Justice, greeted ASF and its partners at this event: “This joint launch workshop demonstrates your willingness to work hand-in-hand, to better share your knowledge, your successes and your challenges.”

For Richard Allatan, project coordinator for the APLFT, the project will make it possible “to restore the population’s confidence in justice and to strengthen collaboration between authorities and members of the judicial system“.

Lasting two years, the ASF project “Improving access to justice for persons in vulnerable situations in Chad” is financed by the European Union.

Cover photo: The AFJT is one of the three organisations benefiting from ASF’s support. Second from right: Ben Kabagambe, ASF Programme Coordinator in Chad © ASF.