Death Penalty Worldwide continues its examination of francophone countries this week with a substantial update of its entry for Chad.
Although Chad is a retentionist country according to the United Nations’ definition, very few executions have taken place in Chad in the last two decades. Since 1991, Chad has maintained a de facto moratorium with the exception of the year 2003, when the government executed nine men over a period of 4 days. Four of the nine men had been found guilty two weeks earlier of assassinating a Sudanese politician and businessman. The Chadian government described this case, the Adouma affair, as a “heinous and particularly spectacular crime committed by felons in the middle of town”, requiring a “forceful” response in order to “regain the trust of foreign investors” by sending a strong message about its response to chronic insecurity. The remaining five executed men had been convicted of unrelated homicides.
The executions were controversial; they also undermined national momentum toward abolition. A few months earlier, a national law reform committee had recommended that the government abolish the death penalty. The executions also violated international law, as some of the prisoners were executed before they had exhausted their appeals.
Since 2003, Chad’s position with regard to the death penalty has remained ambiguous. In its June 2008 report to the Human Rights Committee, the Chadian government declared that, following the “sharp criticism and censure” generated by the Adouma executions, “all death penalties [had] been commuted to life sentences,” and added that it was “preparing the population to accept the abolition of the death penalty.” Two months later, however, a Chadian court convicted former President Hissène Habré and 11 opposition leaders in absentia and sentenced them to death for crimes against Chad’s constitutional order, territorial integrity and security. Habré currently lives in Senegal, and Chad’s government continues to seek his extradition. Furthermore, Chad signed the 2008 and 2010 Note verbale de dissociation, which registered its formal opposition to the U.N. General Assembly’s resolutions on a global death penalty moratorium. Chadian courts have also continued to hand down death sentences. Most recently, in July 2011, an N’Djamena criminal court handed down a death sentence to Guidaoussou Tordinan for killing his wife and injuring his mother-in-law.
On the other hand, Chad accepted the recommendation it received during its 2009 Universal Periodic Review to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, which aims at achieving the universal abolition of capital punishment.
Death Penalty Worldwide’s full entry for Chad can be found here.