Calls continue for the Chadian authorities to release two students being held for allegedly attempting to organise pro-reform protests.
Bebkika Passoua Alexis and Nedoumbayel Nekaou have been held for four months since their arrest last May at a bus station in the capital N’Djamena. They were allegedly in the possession of documents calling for youths to organise demonstrations in the wake of the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt.
‘If these students are being held merely on suspicion of supporting peaceful protests, we would consider them to be prisoners of conscience and they must be released immediately and unconditionally,’ said Erwin Van Der Borght, Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.
Security services claim to have found in the students’ possession two documents – A letter to the youth and Enough is Enough – which called for young people to organize demonstrations against President Idriss Deby Itno’s rule.
The documents made references to the pro-reform protests that resulted in the toppling of leaders in Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year.
The students were first arrested and detained by the security service before being transferred to the N’Djamena central prison, where they are reportedly suffering from a contagious eye disease and a serious skin disease.
According to the N’Djamena Prosecutor’s Office, the two students have been charged with a ‘provocation directly linked to an unarmed demonstration.’
Despite no demonstration taking place, if a court finds them guilty they could get up to six months in jail under Chadian law.
The case has been stalled three times after National Security Agency officials failed to appear in court to testify, and a new trial date has been scheduled for 15 September.
“Chadian authorities must carry out a full investigation into allegations they were tortured in custody, and bring those responsible to justice.”
“We have seen copies of the documents in question and we consider that the content would fall under what is permissible under the right to freedom of expression. This is a blatant attempt by the authorities to prolong the students’ detention using what appear to be politically motivated charges,” said Erwin van der Borght.
“Chadian authorities must uphold its citizens’ freedom to express opinions, even if they differ from those of the government.”