4 April 2012 A senior United Nations human rights official has acknowledged that the political will exists in Chad to improve human rights, but noted that the country has a difficult task ahead, having to address problems that range from food shortages to violence against women, impunity and limited judicial capacity.
“This is a crucial time for human rights in the country,” said the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang, in a press conference in the capital N’Djamena yesterday, at the end of the first high-level mission to Chad by a UN human rights official.
“I am very concerned by the food crisis and I encourage the Government to continue integrating a human rights-based approach into its humanitarian response and long-term development plans,” she added.
She also stressed the need for the international community to continue funding essential aid programmes in Chad to provide immediate relief to millions of people affected by chronic food insecurity and acute malnutrition.
During her three days in Chad, Ms. Kang met with President Idriss Déby Itno and Prime Minister Emmanuel Nadingar, a number of cabinet ministers, the President of the National Assembly, officials of the Bureau of the National Human Rights Institution, civil society representatives and heads of UN agencies.
While commending the Government’s efforts to implement the main recommendations of the National Commission of Inquiry, which investigated human rights violations that occurred in N’Djamena in February 2008, Ms. Kang also took note of the fact that the majority of alleged perpetrators had not been brought to justice.
“The lack of capacity, under-resourcing and the issue of the independence of the judiciary remain of concern,” she said. “I encourage the Government to increase its efforts towards reforming the judiciary with a view to ending impunity.”
The human rights official also urged the Government to ensure that perpetrators of sexual violence are brought to justice.
On the issue of forced evictions, Ms. Kang stressed the importance of integrating human rights principles into all development projects. She encouraged the Government to invite the UN independent expert on the right to adequate housing to visit Chad, saying that such a visit would produce useful recommendations on the international human rights standards that should apply in land clearing and relocation projects.
She welcomed the ongoing dialogue between Chadian authorities and civil society organizations, saying that she hoped that such engagements will be strengthened and sustained. She also noted steps by the Government to harmonize its national legislation with international human rights law, and to establish a national human rights action plan in line with the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review by the UN Human Rights Council.
“The difficulties Chad has faced for many years are severe but they are not insurmountable,” Ms. Kang said. “The Government has a difficult task in improving the human rights situation in the country and my discussions during my visit have convinced me of their political will to do so. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stands ready to help in any way we can.”
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