NAIROBI — Rights group Amnesty International says hundreds of people have been illegally detained in Chad in an ongoing crackdown on critics of the government.
Chadian authorities have been targeting members of the opposition since breaking up an alleged coup attempt in May of this year.
Amnesty says up to eight people were killed in a shoot-out with the supposed conspirators near the capital N’Djamena, and many others were detained, including members of parliament.
Christian Mukosa, Amnesty’s Chad researcher, says the whereabouts of 30 people arrested in the crackdown are still unknown.
“So far we don’t have correct information of where those people are currently detained, and what we know is they don’t have access to their family members, they don’t have access to a lawyer and they don’t have access to any medical attention," said Mukosa.
Amnesty says hundreds of people are detained in the country and are often held in deplorable conditions. The group is calling for the release of all prisoners detained without charge.
Mukosa says the government has been receptive to Amnesty’s complaints, but has done little to improve the rights situation.
“The issue of killings, of forced disappearances, illegal detention and arbitrary arrests is not new in Chad. And we have been denouncing this since even during the era of former President Hissene Habre and we continue doing it now, but so far, we’re still pushing, pushing but the change is very hard to come," he said.
Habre is accused of overseeing thousands of political killings in Chad during an eight-year reign that ended with his ouster in 1990. He is due to face genocide charges at a special tribunal in Senegal.
Chad, now under the rule of President Idriss Deby, was elected as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council last month.
Mukosa says he hopes the Council will put pressure on the country to improve its rights situation.
“When a country is a member of the Security Council, it must be a responsible country and we take it as a good opportunity for the country to make sure its poor human rights record is rectified," he said.
Chad won the election despite being on a U.N. watch-list for countries known to employ child soldiers. In 2011, Chad signed an action plan to stop the recruitment of children.