Chad: the many faces of justice (3/4)

ChadHuman rights defendersNews

N’Djamena, 19 November 2018 – This autumn, ASF presents a portrait of justice in Chad, through interviews with four people who are active in defending human rights in the country. Pyrrhus Banadji Boguel is the President of the Collectif des Associations de Défense des Droits de l’Homme (a group of associations for the defence of human rights). A lawyer who has always been driven by the desire to serve his community, he defends human rights in order to “give a voice to people who have none.” What is the Collectif des Associations de Défense des Droits de l’Homme (CADH)? Pyrrhus Banadji Boguel: The CADH was set up in 1998, to strengthen cooperation between human rights organisations* and support them in their role: contributing to the creation in Chad of a state based on the rule of law and to respect for good governance and human rights. Over 20 years, the group has done much to raise the consciousness of the people of Chad and strengthen their ability to act. It has actively participated in the political, economic, and social life of the country, for example by challenging the public authorities on their responsibility to guarantee and protect human rights, and by denouncing violations of those rights. It has provided objective and relevant analyses of the exploitation of natural resources, the struggle against impunity, access to justice for vulnerable people, the struggle against arbitrary and illegal arrests and gender-based violence, and on monitoring the public service. How do you see your role as a human rights defender? P.B.B.: A human rights defender is the person who is closest to those who are marginalised and there are many people in Chad who are marginalised! He or she is a spokesperson for those who have no voice. Many of our fellow citizens are victims of injustice, for example abuse and fraud by the police or the administrative and military authorities. They don’t know who to turn to for help. They don’t have access to basic essential services such as health and education, or food. Our role is to give a voice to those voiceless people and to combat the social injustice, inequality, fraud, and rights violations of which they have been victims. This conviction has always motivated me. What challenges do human rights defenders face? P.B.B.: There are many! Human rights defenders often experience threats, abuse, and intimidation of all kinds. The public authorities don’t appreciate their role and don’t guarantee them a safe working environment. How would you describe the way justice operates in Chad?  P.B.B.: Our legal system still has huge challenges to overcome in order to meet people’s deepest needs in terms of access to justice. It is diseased, weakened by the frequent interference of the administrative and military authorities in legal cases. The consequences are violations of people’s fundamental rights, the disappearance of important files, the corruption of judges and others working within the justice system, appointments that don’t respect the basic criteria of seniority, disputes between magistrates’ unions, etc. There are other problems too, such as antiquated infrastructure, the lack of information for people about the law, fees that are too high in relation to the means of the population, the lack of implementation of legal decisions, time delays, etc. All this makes access to justice complex and difficult for the citizens of Chad, who sometimes therefore turn to private justice, based on vengeance.   The eventual creation of a legal system that respects peoples’ individual freedoms and fundamental rights needs to be a priority for the political authorities. To rebuild the justice system and restore its reputation, the recommendations of the national conference on justice in 2003 must be implemented and the efforts that have undertaken since then must be continued. A state cannot become stronger without justice. * The CADH currently includes six organisations: Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture (ACAT-Tchad), Association pour la Promotion des Libertés Fondamentales au Tchad (APLFT, of which Pyrrhus Banadji Boguel is also the President), Association Tchadienne pour la Promotion et la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (ATPDH), Association Tchadienne pour la Non-Violence (ATNV), Ligue Tchadienne des Droits de l’Homme (LTDH), and Tchad Non-Violence (TNV). ****
This interview was carried out by Victor Odent, ASF Country Director in Chad.
Previously: – Interview with Doumra Manassé, lawyer in N’Djamena. – Interview with Delphine Djiraibe, President of the Public Interest Law Centre.
Coming up: – Interview with Guerimbaye Midaye, Honorary President of the Ligue Tchadienne des Droits de l’Homme.
ASF has been in Chad since 2012 and carries out several projects with justice actors on the ground, with the support of the European Union. This series of interviews presents a sample of ASF’s different partners in Chad.
Photo: Pyrrhus Banadji Boguel