Chad: Fears for safety of opposition figures

Amnesty International issues urgent call to its 2.2 million members

Amnesty International today issued an urgent action to its 2.2 million members on behalf of four Chadian opposition leaders arrested by security forces in N’Djamena on 3 February.

Lol Mahamat Choua, Ngarlejy Yorongar, Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh, and Wadel Adbelkader Kamougué are prominent members of the political opposition.

Although their whereabouts remain unknown, information received by Amnesty International suggests that they may be currently detained at the Presidential Palace.

Tawanda Hondora, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme, said:

“These opposition leaders are at grave risk of being tortured or forcibly disappeared.

“The Chadian government must immediately reveal what has happened to the four men and why they have been arrested. They must also inform their families and legal representatives of their whereabouts. They should then either charge them with a recognisable criminal offence or release them immediately.”

No legal justification has been given by the authorities for their arrest. Today a spokesperson at the Presidency told Amnesty International that “they can not confirm whether these four people have been arrested”.

Hondora added:

“The Chadian government seems to be using the current conflict with the armed opposition as a cover for arresting people peacefully opposed to government policy.

“While the world is distracted by the ongoing fighting, these people are being taken from their homes – and we are not sure what will happen to them next.”

Amnesty International is concerned that the four arrested men could face the same fate as military officers and civilians arrested by security forces after armed opposition groups attacked N’Djamena in April 2006. The Chadian government continues to refuse to disclose information about them, the state of their health, or confirm whether they are alive or dead.

Amnesty International is asking its members to write to the authorities and call for assurances over their safety.

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