Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Chadian authorities on Thursday to respect the right of assembly

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HRW calls for freedom, respect ahead of polls in Chad

Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Chadian authorities on Thursday to respect the right of assembly, investigate abuses and take urgent measures to prevent abuse during elections on April 11.

The global rights group said Chad’s security forces have ruthlessly cracked down on protesters and political opposition in the lead-up to the presidential election.

“As many Chadians are bravely taking to the streets to peacefully call for change and respect of their basic rights, Chad’s authorities have responded by crushing dissent and hope of a fair or credible election,” said Ida Sawyer, deputy Africa director at HRW.

“The authorities should respect freedom of speech and assembly, ensure that police exercise restraint during opposition protests, and urgently investigate the deadly assault on the family of an opposition leader and other allegations of abuse,” added Sawyer.

The election campaign has been marred with controversies that included President Idriss Deby Itno’s decision to run for a sixth term, and restrictions on opposition candidates.

Security forces killed presidential candidate Yaya Dillo’s 80-year-old mother and wounded five other family members during a raid in February.

Communications Minister Cherif Mahamat Zene said on Feb. 28 that the purpose of the raid was to arrest Dillo, who failed to comply with two judicial warrants.

He said Dillo “put up an armed resistance” and that two people were killed and five others injured in the fight, including three security forces members.

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