The death of longtime president Idriss Déby Itno in 2021 triggered a military coup that installed his son, Mahamat Idriss Déby, as a transitional president. The junta announced that it would oversee an 18-month transition period. In 2022, Déby organized a so-called Sovereign Inclusive National Dialogue (DNIS) that extended the transition by two years. Opposition to Déby’s continued rule has generated massive protests by political and civil society activists, who in turn have faced violence, imprisonment, torture, and intimidation at the hands of security forces. Presidential elections have historically been characterized by a high degree of repression, and legislative elections have been routinely delayed. Multiple insurgencies led by rebel factions in the north and the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram in the south continue to threaten physical security.
- In March, the military government and dozens of armed opposition groups began mediated negotiations in Doha, Qatar. More than 40 of the factions signed a peace agreement with the government in August.
- The DNIS that began in August included Doha signatories as well as prominent political, social, religious, and labor groups. While several participants later pulled out, the dialogue concluded in October with a decision to postpone elections for another two years, officially disband the military junta, and retain Déby as president of a new transitional government. The plan also called for a new constitution that would be approved by referendum.
- On October 20, the date originally set by the junta for a return to elected civilian government, security forces violently suppressed public protests, resulting in more than 100 deaths, according to some estimates. A curfew was imposed in major urban areas, and a three-month ban on political activities was imposed the following day. Security forces continued to target the opposition with detentions and harassment later in the year.
|Was the current head of government or other chief national authority elected through free and fair elections?
President Idriss Déby Itno seized power in 1990 during a rebellion and officially won all subsequent elections. These elections were not credible or free, taking place amid government crackdowns on political dissent. Following Déby’s April 2021 death, a Transitional Military Council (CMT) headed by his son, General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, took control of the country in a coup d’état.
The CMT announced that it would oversee an 18-month transition culminating in elections. To gain support from armed opposition groups, the council in 2022 organized negotiations hosted by the Qatari government, which lasted from March to August. Those talks were followed by the DNIS with civilian representatives, which concluded in October with a new transition timeline that envisioned elections in two years. The CMT formally disbanded, and Mahamat Déby remained in position as president of a new transitional government. He appointed a former political opposition leader, Saleh Kebzabo, as transitional prime minister.
|Were the current national legislative representatives elected through free and fair elections?
Prior to the April 2021 military coup, the unicameral National Assembly consisted of 188 members elected to four-year terms. Elections were last held in 2011, having been repeatedly postponed. At the time of the coup, legislators were performing their functions despite the expiration of their electoral mandates.
The CMT dissolved the National Assembly and in September 2021 appointed a 93-member National Transitional Council (CNT) as an interim legislature. While some opposition members were named to the body, members of a prominent opposition coalition that denounced the coup were excluded. In October of that year, the former president of the National Assembly, Haroun Kabadi, was appointed as president of the CNT. In November 2022, Déby issued a decree to name 104 additional deputies to the CNT.
|Are the electoral laws and framework fair, and are they implemented impartially by the relevant election management bodies?
Before the April 2021 coup, elections were managed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI); the CENI’s leadership was appointed by the country’s entrenched political class through the National Framework for Political Dialogue (CNDP), and civil society was excluded from the process.
The CMT, which suspended the constitution upon taking power, violated constitutional provisions requiring that executive authority be passed to the president of the National Assembly should the head of state die in office. In October 2022, the DNIS established a new two-year transition timetable that was to include a new electoral code and a referendum on a new constitution.
|Do the people have the right to organize in different political parties or other competitive political groupings of their choice, and is the system free of undue obstacles to the rise and fall of these competing parties or groupings?
There are more than 130 registered political parties in Chad, though most have historically been aligned with the ruling party of former president Déby, the Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS). Opposition parties have legal recognition, and some members are represented in the transitional government and legislature. However, opposition parties remain subject to government harassment, intimidation, and arrest. During 2022, the authorities arrested leaders of prominent opposition groups following demonstrations against the junta and used violent repression to disperse and intimidate political activists. After the October protests, the government issued a curfew for major urban areas and a three-month ban on political activities.
|Is there a realistic opportunity for the opposition to increase its support or gain power through elections?
Chad has never experienced a peaceful rotation of power through elections, and repeated delays in holding elections have denied opposition groups an opportunity to compete with incumbent forces. After the October 2022 protests against the new two-year transition period, security forces continued to target the opposition and their headquarters with detentions and harassment. The opposition claimed that hundreds of their supporters had been detained or disappeared by year’s end.
|Are the people’s political choices free from domination by forces that are external to the political sphere, or by political forces that employ extrapolitical means?
Extensive kinship networks tied to former president Déby had resulted in a concentration of political and economic power. The former government was not accountable to voters in practice, and citizens had few effective means of influencing politics. After the military, led by Déby’s son, took control in 2021, it suspended the constitution, perpetuating a historic pattern of military interventions in political affairs. The two-year extension to the transitional period in 2022 further postponed any shift toward electoral politics and voter participation.
|Do various segments of the population (including ethnic, racial, religious, gender, LGBT+, and other relevant groups) have full political rights and electoral opportunities?
The transitional leadership has continued a long-standing practice of appointing members of the Beri or Zaghawa ethnic group to prominent positions within the government, causing resentment among the country’s other ethnic groups. The Beri make up less than 5 percent of Chad’s population. Many ethnic groups from the south have been largely excluded from political power; while some have held government posts, they had little ability to advocate for their communities or act independently from the MPS structure.
Women have historically held few senior positions in government, and they face societal discrimination. LGBT+ people are severely marginalized, with minimal space for engagement in political processes or advocacy for their interests.
|Do the freely elected head of government and national legislative representatives determine the policies of the government?
None of the executive or legislative officials installed since the 2021 coup have been elected. Even before 2021, the president was not freely elected, and the mandate of the National Assembly had expired in 2015.
|Are safeguards against official corruption strong and effective?
Corruption, bribery, and nepotism are endemic in Chad. Journalists, labor leaders, and religious figures have faced harsh reprisals for speaking out about corruption, including arrest, prosecution, and expulsion from the country. Corruption charges against high-level officials that do go forward are widely viewed as selective prosecutions meant to discredit those who have fallen out with or pose a threat to the government or its allies. The arrest of top executives within Chad’s oil sector in June 2022 raised suspicions of such politicized enforcement.
|Does the government operate with openness and transparency?
Chad has no law establishing the right to access official information. Since seizing power, Mahamat Déby has largely ruled by decree, offering no meaningful opportunity for civil society to comment on government policies or obtain basic information about government operations.
|Are there free and independent media?
The CMT’s transitional charter provides for freedom of the press, but press freedom is restricted in practice. Newspaper editors are legally required to have completed at least three years of higher education; outlets employing editors who do not meet this condition face suspension, constraining the media environment. Although criticism of the government is permitted within certain boundaries, reporters and editors commonly self-censor to avoid reprisals. Journalists can face arrest, detention, and imprisonment on charges including defamation. Several reporters were beaten or temporarily detained while covering opposition demonstrations in 2022; one journalist was fatally shot during the October protests, and another was killed in February as he covered a local conflict in the south.
|Are individuals free to practice and express their religious faith or nonbelief in public and private?
The state imposes a number of several religious restrictions, primarily against certain Muslim sects. Those deemed to promote violence are banned, despite limited evidence of such activity. Imams are subject to governance by the semipublic High Council for Islamic Affairs, which is led by a group of imams belonging to the Tijanyya Sufi order. Wearing burqas is banned by ministerial decree, and the government detains individuals who wear them in public.
|Is there academic freedom, and is the educational system free from extensive political indoctrination?
The government does not explicitly restrict academic freedom, but funds meant for the education system, as well as government-funded stipends, are regularly in arrears, increasing scholars’ vulnerability to political pressure or self-censorship. Academic freedom is also affected by broader legal and practical restrictions on antigovernment speech.
|Are individuals free to express their personal views on political or other sensitive topics without fear of surveillance or retribution?
There is some space for personal expression and free private discussion, but residents tend to self-censor due to fears of reprisal from the state. More outspoken activists face harassment, intimidation, arrest, and torture by security forces.
|Is there freedom of assembly?
The right of free assembly is not upheld by the transitional government. While some protests denouncing a lack of political transparency and inclusivity were authorized by transitional authorities and allowed to proceed peacefully during 2021, earlier demonstrations against the military coup were met with lethal violence.
Security forces used gunfire, tear gas, and beatings to suppress protests on multiple occasions in 2022. Their response to mass demonstrations on October 20, the date originally set by the junta for a return to elected civilian rule, caused dozens of deaths. Initial government estimates put the toll at about 50 people killed, but opposition leaders and civic groups claimed that more than 100 were killed, and hundreds more were injured and arrested.
|Is there freedom for nongovernmental organizations, particularly those that are engaged in human rights– and governance-related work?
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) must receive government approval to operate legally, and few such applications are approved. Some NGOs do operate in the country, but they have tended to focus on less politically sensitive issues like humanitarian relief or human trafficking. In November 2022, following the October protests, the authorities banned Wakit Tama—a coalition of NGOs and opposition parties—and forbade any other such civic-political alliances. The coalition’s events had faced bans earlier in the year, and a number of its leaders were subjected to arrest and harassment.
|Is there freedom for trade unions and similar professional or labor organizations?
Though the CMT’s transitional charter protects the rights to strike and unionize, other laws limit public-sector workers’ right to strike. Despite such restrictions, some public unions, including the largest civil servants’ union, organized strikes in 2022. Union leaders were among the NGO officials who faced arrest during the year for their role in organizing Wakit Tama demonstrations.
|Is there an independent judiciary?
The political leadership heavily influences the courts, and instances of political interference in trials were reported in 2022. Judges went on strike in September, protesting the condition of their offices and the illegal suspension of salaries for some magistrates.
|Does due process prevail in civil and criminal matters?
Security forces routinely ignore legal guidelines regarding search, seizure, and detention. Detained persons are often denied access to lawyers, especially those held in connection with their involvement in antigovernment protests or activities. Many people suspected of committing crimes are jailed for lengthy periods without charge. Instances of arbitrary detention and forced disappearances by security forces were reported throughout 2022.
|Is there protection from the illegitimate use of physical force and freedom from war and insurgencies?
The security forces have been accused of killing and torturing civilians with impunity. In addition, tensions among ethnic groups have been known to escalate into violent conflict, and did so on multiple occasions in 2022, particularly in the context of disputes over land use.
The Boko Haram militant group, including a faction known as the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (IS-WA), operates near Lake Chad and was active throughout 2022. In September, the provincial governor of Hadjer-Lamis held an emergency meeting in response to Boko Haram attacks in Kassalaré and Néra.
Armed opposition groups, most notably the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) and the Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic (CCMSR), threaten the government from bases in southern Libya. While they observed a cease-fire after the launch of the mediated negotiations in Qatar in 2022, key groups including FACT and CCMSR did not sign an agreement with the government at the end of the process. FACT leader Mahamat Mahdi Ali reiterated his group’s determination to oppose Mahamat Déby’s dynastic succession to the presidency, including through armed struggle.
|Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population?
While there are some legal protections against discrimination based on race, sex, and other categories, none are effectively enforced. Ethnic disparities in the justice system have been reported, with officials refraining from enforcing court orders against people who share their ethnic identity. Arbitrary arrests and detentions based on ethnic identity have also been reported.
Women face pervasive discrimination, and girls have limited access to education. Due to cultural stigmatization, LGBT+ citizens are forced to conceal their sexual orientation and gender identity. The penal code criminalizes same-sex sexual activity.
While discrimination against people with disabilities is legally prohibited, NGOs report that these provisions are not upheld in practice.
As of mid-December 2022, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that there were nearly 577,000 refugees in Chad, but they generally lack access to government services and rely on international organizations for humanitarian assistance.
|Do individuals enjoy freedom of movement, including the ability to change their place of residence, employment, or education?
Although legal guarantees for freedom of movement exist, militant activity and government restrictions have limited movement in practice. In some areas of Chad, militants have erected roadblocks, and the security forces periodically close borders with Libya, Sudan, and the Central African Republic due to militant activity in those countries. The Lake Chad Basin region also experiences periodic border closures and official restrictions on movement in response to militant attacks. As of December 2022, such insecurity had contributed to the internal displacement of more than 381,000 Chadians.
Public-resource constraints limit citizens’ ability to pursue employment or educational opportunities outside of their home areas, for example by hampering the processing of official documents.
|Are individuals able to exercise the right to own property and establish private businesses without undue interference from state or nonstate actors?
Laws establishing land and property rights are nominally in force, but they are functionally irrelevant to the majority of the country’s population due to the state’s minimal presence in rural areas; customary law governs land ownership and usage rights in practice. Laws protecting the right of women to inherit land are not enforced.
Establishing and operating a business in Chad is extremely difficult, with obstacles including official corruption.
|Do individuals enjoy personal social freedoms, including choice of marriage partner and size of family, protection from domestic violence, and control over appearance?
Violence against women is common, and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is illegal but widely practiced. Roughly a third of women aged 15 to 49 have suffered FGM/C. According to the UN Global Database on Violence against Women, which compiles data from various local and international sources, 28.6 percent of women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical or sexual intimate-partner violence in their lifetime, and 17.5 percent have experienced such violence in the last 12 months. A little more than 60 percent of married women aged 20 to 24 were married before age 18. The penal code bans child marriage, setting the legal age of marriage at 18, but the courts rarely hold those who violate the ban accountable.
|Do individuals enjoy equality of opportunity and freedom from economic exploitation?
The government has adopted minimum wage and occupational safety laws, but they are not well enforced. Many workers are unaware of or lack access to formal channels through which they may seek redress for mistreatment; corruption also impedes workers from obtaining such redress. Unpaid wages are a problem in many sectors.
Chad is a source, transit, and destination country for child trafficking; victims are exploited for forced labor or commercial sex, or recruited into armed groups. NGOs have reported that a large percentage of human trafficking within Chad is related to the operation of illegal gold mines in the north.
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Global Freedom Score15 100 not free