Chad: Trade union leaders given 18-month suspended prison sentence

The ITUC has firmly condemned the sentences handed to three trade union leaders in Chad on Tuesday 18 September. Their only offence has been to denounce the situation in their country, which the Chadian justice system deems sufficient grounds for condemning them to 18-month suspended jail terms for "defamation" and "incitement to hatred".

The president of the Union des syndicats du Tchad (UST) Michel Barka along with his vice president Younous Mahadjir and general secretary François Djondang have also been fined one million CFA francs (1500 euros).

The UST, which called the public sector strike that was initiated in mid July and suspended at the weekend to allow negotiations to take place in a climate of serenity, had launched a petition stating, among other things, that: "The whole of Chad is totally demoralised: the nepotism, mismanagement, impunity, high cost of living, the unprecedented pauperisation of the population, in short, the autocratic rule of (President Idriss) Deby. [...] The whole of Chad is living in absolute precariousness. The lack of drinking water, electricity, medicines and basic necessities is alarming."

On Thursday 13 September, the ITUC had written to the authorities, urging them to end all forms of harassment, including legal persecution, against trade unionists. The trade union organisation has condemned the blatant lack of independence displayed by the Chadian judiciary. "The Chadian government will not stand for any kind of opposition or criticism of its decisions. It is impossible for trade unions to defend workers’ rights in such a climate, and this is totally unacceptable," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

For further information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on: +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 62 10 18