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Human rights report finds 44 Chad prisoners died 'due to the conditions of detention’

File photograph: Chad's Justice Minister Djimet Arabi

44 prisoners were found dead in their cell in a prison in Chad because they were kept in 46°C heat, according to a National Human Rights Commission report released this month. The report detailed conditions of dangerous overcrowding, scorching heat along with thirst and hunger. 

The prisoners were found dead near the capital, N'Djamena on April 15. Prosecutors said the men were captured during an army operation against the Islamist militants Boko Haram. Chad's Justice Minister Djimet Arabi at the time, denied the prisoners had been “ill-treated” suggesting that the death “could have been a case of collective suicide.” Autopsies conducted in April on four dead prisoners revealed traces of a lethal substance as cause of death.

However, the report ruled out poisoning and disputed the claims made my prosecutors. The report found the victims were all civilians adding, “they were farmers and villagers who were arbitrarily arrested.”

Furthermore, the inquiry claimed the arrests occurred after the army operation had concluded. The commission also interviewed the 14 survivors, two of whom said they were 16 years old. They described difficult conditions where, “the only food they were given were a few dates, not enough to go around the group” and that that the guards did not give assistance “despite cries of distress and prayers recited all night.”

Arabi told AFP he had taken note of the Commission's report and said an inquiry would be launched for further investigations.

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