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Chad: clarification of ICRC procedures for visiting places of detention

04-03-2008 News Release 08/40

Geneva (ICRC) – In connection with a statement by the French foreign ministry of 28 February regarding the working procedures of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) when it visits places of detention in Chad, the ICRC wishes to point out that all negotiations concerning access to those places are confidential and that personal information on the detainees is communicated only to those persons’ families.

The ICRC has been visiting detainees in the Republic of Chad for nearly 30 years. In 2007 it visited almost 4,000 persons in 71 places of detention there. The aim was to assess the material and psychological conditions of detention and the treatment of detainees.

After reviewing the information gathered and its own observations, the ICRC conveys to the detaining authorities – and to them alone – its findings, conclusions and recommendations. It does this both orally and in writing, in absolute confidentiality, in accordance with its established procedures. It carefully notes comments made by the detaining authorities. This procedure is followed by the ICRC in over 80 countries all over the world.

The ICRC notes that a commission has been formed to investigate what has happened to political activists apparently arrested in Chad recently, and welcomes any initiative that could further the process. Nevertheless, it is not the ICRC’s role to take part in the work of such a body. To do so would overstep its mandate as an exclusively humanitarian and neutral organization. It will, however, carry on its confidential bilateral dialogue with the Chadian authorities with the aim of obtaining access to any person detained in connection with the latest events in Chad, but without revealing the content of this dialogue to third parties.

For further information, please contact:
  Laurent Corbaz, ICRC Paris, tel: +33 15654 1111
  Nicolaï Panke, ICRC N’Djamena, tel: +235 2520 316
  Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 32 17