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Freedom of Speech
It is tough being a journalist in Chad. Reporters are often arrested for their writings. Most are usually released fairly quickly, but some have been held arbitrarily for weeks or even months, and more have been mistreated while detained. In 2019, a newspaper editor initially charged with defaming a former government minister was sentenced to three years in prison for “association for the purpose of computer crime”, a charge that was invented by the prosecution with the sole aim of keeping him in prison; where he has been physically attacked and is being held in appalling conditions.
Coverage of impunity or criticism of President Idriss Deby Itno and those close to him is not tolerated and can lead to expulsion (for foreign journalists), to abduction and arbitrary detention (for Chadian journalists) and to the closure of media outlets – the fate suffered by a weekly newspaper in 2018. Journalists are exposed to the threat of terrorism, as was seen in 2019 when a national TV cameraman travelling with an army convoy was killed by a mine in the road. Journalists have also been subjected to violence by the security forces while covering street protests against the government’s austerity measures. In response to calls from journalists’ associations, the Chadian media staged a “Day without Press” in February 2018, in which media outlets stopped broadcasting and publishing for an entire day to denounce the attacks on journalists and media by the political police and regular police, which enjoy complete impunity. A month later, the authorities blocked access to social media and did not restore it until July 2019, after a total of 470 days. This established Chad as one of Africa’s worst cyber-censors in recent years.