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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Statement on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Djibouti

The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Mrs Reine Alapini-Gansou, is deeply concerned by the situation of human rights defenders in Djibouti, a situation marked by an increase in arrests, police and judicial repression, and all forms of threats against independent journalists and opinion leaders.                                                                                                               

The Special Rapporteur notes the various recent developments that have taken place in the country, including the arrest of several activists on 16 January 2014 and the ensuing disputes which constitute a serious violation of the right to freedom of expression and assembly. These acts are carried out in an environment where groups of human rights defenders are deprived of their right to peaceful assembly.

The Special Rapporteur strongly condemns such acts which are a violation of the safety of individuals and the enjoyment of their civil and political rights. The Special Rapporteur is further concerned by the prolonged detention of several human rights defenders, an act which may lead to the loss of lives as it was the case of Mohamed Elmi Rayade who died in the Gabode prison on 29 August 2013. 

The Special Rapporteur calls on the Government of Djibouti to ensure that human rights defenders are able to conduct their activities in a safe and conducive environment, including by implementing the existing legal framework, avoiding stigmatisation and facilitating constructive dialogue with the relevant authorities.

The Special Rapporteur would like to remind the Government of Djibouti of its international obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. 

The Special Rapporteur would also like to encourage the Djiboutian authorities to continue their efforts towards ensuring the physical integrity and the safety of human rights defenders in Djibouti.


Banjul, 22 January 2014