Filling the judicial gap in eastern Chad

Jan 21, 2010

UNDP, the UN peacekeeping mission and the legal fraternity in Chad are collaborating to fill the gap in judiciary professionals in the eastern part of the country, by training civil servants to perform the functions of magistrates.

Local level administrators, court clerks and bailiffs with limited or no prior legal training, are among the first group of 74 trainees to complete the one-month training course that provides basic legal skills and a general introduction to the judicial system in Chad. It also covers topics such as conflict resolution and the role of magistrates in the protection of human rights. It is expected that 148 local magistrates will be trained by June 2010.

“This training programme should increase public confidence in the justice system by improving the quality of judgments rendered and enforced in accordance with the law and rules of procedure,” said UNDP Country Director Pascal Karorero, at the closing ceremony of the training. “It should also reduce the number of arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions.”

One of the participants, Mr. Idris Koni Chidi is a senior local administrator in Ouaddai, one of the regions in eastern Chad. He noted that the training provided him the basic knowledge needed for law enforcement and conflict resolution, given that sometimes the formal legal system is inconsistent with customary law.

Legal professionals are among many who have fled eastern Chad due to insecurity. Attacks by local bandits and rebels from neighbouring Darfur have made the region highly insecure and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. The gap in legal services means that there is little recourse to justice for crimes committed.

This training programme is run with the Chadian National School of Magistrates, with the participation of Chadian judges, magistrates, lawyers and the Law Department at the University of Abéché. The trainees are selected in collaboration with the provincial authorities and the Interior Ministry. At least one magistrate remains in office to ensure that normal court operations are not disrupted.

Eastern Chad hosts some 250,000 refugees and 170,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), and competition for limited natural resources, coupled with widespread banditry, has escalated tensions between the refugees, IDPs and host communities.

UNDP, through its Early Recovery programmme in eastern Chad, works to strengthen the capacity of the Chadian government to improve the rule of law and local governance, and promote socio-economic recovery.

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