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Chad: Thousands of people's homes destroyed, call for urgent action to stop forced evictions

The Chadian government must stop the forced evictions which have left tens of thousands homeless in the capital city of N’Djamena, Amnesty International said in a report released today (8 September).

The Amnesty International report, ‘Broken Homes, Broken Lives’, analyses commercially available satellite images, verified by in-depth interviews and site inspections in N'Djamena in May 2009, to show the scale of demolition that took place in the capital from January 2008 until late July 2009.

The satellite images printed in the report show that over 3,700 structures were destroyed in about 385 days between January 2008 and January 2009. This has left tens of thousands of people homeless, and has seen many people lose their place of work and vital tools and other possessions.

The evictions were directly allowed by Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno who issued a decree in February 2008 authorizing the destruction of what were termed illegally constructed buildings and structures. Many of the resulting demolitions flouted international human rights standards as well as Chadian laws.

Many of the evictions, which were still happening in June 2009, have been carried out be security forces who order people to leave their properties and prevent any residents not at home from returning. In many cases residents were given little or no time to relocate. The vast majority of families who lost their homes have not received any compensation. Some have gone to live with relatives, while many remain in their neighbourhoods living in the ruins of their homes.

Some families were evicted by the government in direct contempt of court orders prohibiting their removal. In the neighbourhood of Diguel Est, for example, some residents with ownership papers appealed to magistrates and won a court injunction. However this was ignored by the mayor of N’Djamena and the houses were demolished; prompting the magistrates union to threaten a strike.

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

“The vast majority of families who lost their homes were not consulted by the authorities, were given little or no notice and have not received alternative housing or any other form of compensation. In distressing scenes, many have been reduced to living in the rubble of their former houses.

“The Chadian authorities must respect the rule of law. They must ensure that every person’s right to protection under the law is upheld.

“These images tell a shocking story of families whose homes were destroyed following President Deby’s decree. The pace of housing demolition in N’Djamena suggests a frightening level of human suffering.”

Amnesty International is calling on the Chadian Government to introduce a moratorium on mass evictions until a clear and effective prohibition against forced evictions and a legal framework that protects human rights is put in place. The government should also ensure that all victims of forced evictions have access to adequate alternative housing, emergency assistance, access to justice and effective remedies including reparations.

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