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Rights group urges Chad government to charge or release detainees

The government of Chad should release prisoners without charges or charge them [press release release] with a recognizable criminal offense, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] said in a report [text, PDF] released Thursday. The government is allegedly using charges such as "inciting racial hatred," "defamation" and "endangering national security" to justify the arrests of journalists, human rights defenders, trade-unionists and students. Chad is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text], which protects the freedom of expression and prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention. Despite this international treaty, among others that Chad has signed, the report claims that Chad officials have been using arbitrary arrests and detentions for years to silence government critics.

Unlawful arrest and detainment have been prevalent issues in Chad and surrounding countries in recent years. Sudan and Egypt [JURIST reports] were both accused in October of participating in unlawful arrests and have been urged by the UN and AI to release uncharged prisoners or charge them with a recognizable offense. In 2008 Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged [news release] the government of Chad to release or charge detainees following an attempted coup. Following these arrests, AI accused the Chad government in February of the same year of using the state of emergency to arrest members of peaceful opposition parties and to censor [JURIST reports] journalism.

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