Chad: UN human rights expert alarmed by execution of 10 people after swift trial

Posted on September 10, 2015

Professor Christof Heyns, a UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, has condemned the recent execution of ten people in Chad following a swift process that may have failed to respect international human rights standards. He called on the Chadian authorities to reinstate the moratorium on capital punishment.

On 29 August, 10 suspected members of Boko Haram were executed in Chad after a three-day hearing. No reliable information could be obtained on whether those executed were able to use their right to appeal and clemency as the hearings were moved to a secret place on the last day.

‘While I express my deepest rejection of the terrorist attacks in June and July, I encourage the government to react to such events within the limits of its obligations under international law,’ Prof Heyns said. He added: ‘The death penalty is an extreme form of punishment and, if used at all, should be imposed only after a fair trial that respects the most stringent due process guarantees as stipulated in international human rights law.’

The executions came after the Chadian authorities’ announcement in July that the death penalty would be reintroduced following the terrorist attacks carried out by Boko Haram in the capital N’Djamena between June and July. ‘The last official execution in the country prior to these events took place in 2003,’ Prof Heyns noted, recalling that Chad had accepted last year’s recommendation on the abolition of the death penalty made by other states during the review of the country’s human rights record in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council. In September 2014, Chad announced that it would abolish the death penalty in its legislation. However, on 30 July 2015, the National Parliament adopted a new law on terrorism and reintroduced the death penalty.

‘In addition to other problems with these executions, when dealing with a right as fundamental in nature as the right to life, this back-and-forth between having the death penalty and not having it is arbitrary. Instead of making life more valuable, as the presumed intention behind the executions was, such conduct cheapens the lives of all concerned.’

Prof Heyns called upon Chadian authorities to amend the anti-terrorist law of 30 July 2015 and to reinstate the moratorium on the death penalty with a view to its complete abolition.

The expert’s statement has been endorsed by UN Special Rapporteurs Juan E Méndez (on torture) and Ben Emmerson (on human rights and counter-terrorism).

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Professor Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (South Africa), is a Director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa and a Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria (UP), where he has also directed the Centre for Human Rights and engaged in wide-reaching initiatives on human rights in Africa. He has advised a number of international, regional and national entities on human rights issues. To learn more, log on to:


The United Nations human rights experts are part of what it is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts on human rights in the UN, is the general name given to the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either situations in specific countries or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacities. To learn more, log on to:


UN Human Rights, Country Page – Chad:

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