Last Updated 15 September 2021

A landlocked country sharing borders with Libya, Sudan, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Niger, Chad’s geography, geopolitics and oil resources have contributed to cycles of violence and corruption. Since the death of President Idriss Déby on April 19, 2021, the country has been ruled by his son, Mahamat Idriss Déby, leading the transitional military council.1 Chad is a member of the African Union2 and a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.3

According to the most recent reports, the population of 15.8 million people is estimated to be 52% Muslim, 24% Protestant, 20% Roman Catholic, and 3% atheist.4 The country is also home to small groups of Baha’is and Jehovah’s Witnesses.5 The country is divided geographically by a religious frontier, with a majority of Muslims in the North and Christians in the South.6 Muslims generally adhere to Sufism and a small minority to Salafism, but many ethnic differences exist in the practice of Islam in Chad. The majority of Protestants are evangelical Christians.7

In May 2016, a special court in Senegal convicted a former president of Chad, Hissène Habré, of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and torture, including rape and sexual slavery. The victims of Habré have yet to receive any reparations. Many serious human rights problems continue to exist in the country today. These include cases of unlawful or arbitrary killings, extrajudicial killings by government or on behalf of government; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention of political prisoners or detainees.8

Grave Violations
Severe Discrimination
Systemic Discrimination

Constitution and government

Chad’s Constitution,9 adopted in 2018, establishes the State as secular (as was the case in Chad’s previous constitutions since 1993).

The preamble states:

“[…] political, ethnic and religious tolerance, forgiveness and interreligious dialogue are fundamental values ​​contributing to the consolidation of national unity and cohesion.”10

Article 28 guarantees freedom of religion or belief, expression and assembly:

“The freedoms of opinion and of expression, of communication, of conscience, of religion, of the press, of association, of assembly, of movement, and of demonstration are guaranteed to all.”11

However, the preamble also grants the state the right to regulate religious freedom by law to “ensure mutual respect for the rights of others” and to safeguard “public order and good morals.”12

Originally, the 2018 Constitution established an oath for members of the government and other officials who had to swear on the Quran or Bible in order to take-up their role.13 The mandatory oath was withdrawn by constitutional amendments after it received a lot of criticism from the civil society and religious groups.14​​

Despite the principle of secularism inscribed in the constitution, Muslims hold a privileged position in the government; Freedom House has observed that, “Christians in the south are largely excluded from political power; some Christians hold government positions, but their voice is limited.”15

The Director of Religious and Traditional Affairs oversees religious matters. The High Council for Islamic Affairs (HCIA) oversees Islamic religious activities, including the supervision of some Arabic-language schools and higher institutions of learning, and the representation of the country in international Islamic meetings. The HCIA, in coordination with the president, appoints the grand imam, a spiritual leader for Muslims, who oversees each region’s high imam and serves as head of the council. In principle, although not consistently in practice, the grand imam has the authority to restrict proselytizing by Islamic groups, regulate the content of mosque sermons, and exert control over activities of Islamic charities.

While the government is legally obligated to treat all religious groups or denominations equally, some non-Muslims allege that Muslims receive preferential status, particularly concerning use of public lands for building places of worship.

Education and children’s rights


School attendance is mandatory for children aged between six and 15.16 The core curriculum does not include religious studies. Public education is secular, but the state allows religious private schools to operate. Islamic schools are increasingly financed by funds from foreign Muslim-majority states, most notably the United Arab Emirates. They often come to replace the failing public education, thus appearing as “a credible social alternative.”17 Although they are allowed to operate, the HCIA oversees Islamic activities and schools.18

Due to a large number of refugees, a number of schools for refugees also exist under the control of the UN Refugee Agency.19 30051095/TCD- 79409.pdf

Child Marriage

The legal age of marriage is set at 18, thus making child marriage illegal. However, the courts rarely hold accountable anyone involved in forcing these marriages.20 According to a UNICEF Report on Child Marriage in the Sahel region (2020), there are one million girls aged under 18 who are married in Chad.21

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

It is estimated that between 44%22 and 50%23 of the women in Chad have been victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and that around 4,000 to 5,000 girls are mutilated in Chad each year.24

The prevalence of the practice differs depending on numerous factors such as religion, ethnicity, and region. Amongst the women victims of FGM, it is estimated that 50% are Muslim, 40% Catholic, and 15% Protestant. The Enquête Démographique et de Santé à Indicateurs Multiples has reported that in 51% of cases, women consider the practice not to be required by their religion, and 31% deem FGM to be a religious necessity.25

The practice is officially illegal in Chad and carries a jail sentence of up to five years.26 However, no example of recent procedures involving the law against practitioners of FGM has been found. According to the Ministry of Social Action and Justice, trials are underway in certain regions, but no detail nor evidence of them has been published.27 As cases of FGM continue to rise in Chad, the National Commission of Human rights has opened an investigation to analyze the growth of the phenomenon and the government’s response.28

Family, community and society

LGBTI+ rights

Same-sex relations are illegal in Chad under the Penal Code revised in 2017 and are punished by two years’ imprisonment and a fine of between 50,000 and 500,000 Central African CFA francs.29 There is no evidence that this law has been enforced, but the lack of investigation after the death of an openly gay man, Ahmat Fraicheur, in 2020, has shown how the public authorities treat LGBTI+ victims of crime differently.30 In addition, LGBTI+ people are stigmatized and marginalized, which forces them to “conceal their sexual orientation and gender identity.”31

In 2016, the former Prime Minister of Chad and current member of parliament, Delwa Kassiré Coumakoye, asserted that “Homosexuality is condemned by all religions. We do not have to forgive something that God himself rejects, because Westerners have said this.”32

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

The constitution provides for freedom of expression and freedom of the press. However, both are severely restricted in practice. Broadcast media are controlled by the state. The government does not restrict access to the Internet in theory, but Amnesty International estimates that there has been the equivalent of nearly two and a half years of internet cuts or disruptions since 2016.33

The US Department of State’s 2020 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Chad has observed that journalists and human rights defenders have faced threats, harassment and intimidation by the authorities. It also says that “Local media reported that journalists faced regular arrest after publication, with most released fairly quickly, others held in detention for weeks or months, and some severely mistreated, particularly when articles discussed impunity or criticized the president and his associates.”34

Whilst the constitution provides for freedom of peaceful assembly in limited circumstances, the government does not respect this and regularly interferes with opposition protests and civil society gatherings, including via arrests and the use of excessive force or violence against demonstrators.35

In June 2018, the authorities amended a number of laws including the Ordinance that regulates associations,36Ordinance no.023/PR/2018 (27 June 2018); failing to take into account recommendations made by national and international human rights organizations. The new regulations control public meetings and demonstrations in public spaces, and have been regularly used by the Chadian government to ban religious gatherings and processions.

According to Amnesty International, “The new law imposes a blanket ban on all “regionalist or community associations” without providing any legal grounds or explanation, and maintains a previous provision which requires that citizens creating associations must receive a prior authorization from the Ministry of Territorial Administration before they can start operating.”37

Article 25 contains vague provisions forbidding religious associations to undertake any activity deviated from their original purpose and contrary to their apolitical vocation (“Est interdit aux associations religieuse toute activité déviée de leur objet initial et contraire à leur vocation apolitique”),38Ordinance no.023/PR/2018 (27 June 2018),, Article 25 which could be used to prevent religious associations to exercise their right to freedom of expression. The former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association, Maina Kiai, had described this decree as turning religious freedom into a privilege in Chad.39


3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 18
6, 10, 17, 39
8, 34
9, 11
14 ​​
15, 20, 31
19 30051095/TCD- 79409.pdf
24, 26
29, 32
33, 35
36 Ordinance no.023/PR/2018 (27 June 2018);
38 Ordinance no.023/PR/2018 (27 June 2018),, Article 25

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