Political deadlock and intensified repression, three months prior the presidential election

Press release
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(Djibouti, Kampala, Paris) Three international and Djiboutian human rights organizations call upon the international community to ensure a free, pluralist and transparent election, and to support the establishment of an Independent Commission of Investigation to establish accountabilities and to try the perpetrators of the December 21st 2016 massacre. At least 27 people from the Yonis Moussa community were shot dead by Djibouti security forces during the said massacre.

In a position paper published today, FIDH and LDDH denounce the failure of the political dialogue and the intensification of repression against members of the civil society and the opposition. Our organizations express their deep concern regarding the political situation and the increasing violations of human rights, while April 2016 presidential election is approaching.

Our organizations also want to draw attention to Omar Ali Ewado’s situation, one of the founding members of the LDDH, who must go on trial on January 17th and call upon international organizations and diplomats in Djibouti to attend his trial. He is prosecuted for public defamation for having published a list of the victims and the missing of the 21st December massacre.

"Omar Ali Ewado must be released following January 17’s hearing as he is improperly prosecuted for having done his work as a human rights defender, by denouncing the crimes committed during the massacre of December 21st, 2015 and requesting explanation to Djiboutian authorities. He should not be prosecuted, the authors of the massacre should"

Mr. Emmanuel Daoud, his lawyer and member of the FIDH legal action group

Mr. Omar Ali Ewado, was arrested on December 29th, 2015 next to the Bouffard hospital, taken to the Investigation and Documentation Section (SRD) of the police station and detained incommunicado. On December 31st, he was finally taken into custody at the Central Prison of Gabode and prosecuted for "public defamation" (Article 425 of the Criminal Code) and "attempting to obstruct the exercise of justice "(Article 420 of the criminal Code). His crime is to have published a list of the victims and the missing of the massacre perpetrated by the security forces on December 21st, 2015 in Balbala. He appeared on January 10th, 2016 before the Criminal Chamber of Djibouti’s tribunal of first instance, which scheduled the case for January 17th 2016. The Prosecutor requested 12 months of imprisonment against Mr. Ewado. His trial is scheduled to start on January 17th, 2016.

"Djibouti is going through an unprecedented political, security and human rights crisis. Three months prior the presidential election, the international community must urgently establish an international investigation commission to shed light on the massacre of December 21st, 2015 and request that those responsible are brought to justice"

our organizations

Since September 2015, our organizations have recorded a significant increase in arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as acts of violence, harassment and intimidation against opposition leaders and activists, independent journalists and human rights defenders as well as against the civilian population. Since July 2015, over a hundred people, mostly opposition activists and leaders, were arrested for political reasons and the majority of them could not receive any legal and medical assistance. Most of them were sentenced following unfair legal proceedings or are the subject of judicial harassment. Demonstrations, musters and meetings of the opposition are systematically prevented or violently repressed. Police forces make use of excessive and disproportionate violence, and arbitrarily arrest and detain activists, sometimes incommunicado.

The massacre of December 21st 2015 during which 27 people from the Yonis Moussa community were killed and 150 of them injured by security forces in Djibouti demonstrates the escalation of violence of Djiboutian authorities towards any person or group regarded as opposed to the regime.

As of today, most main leaders of the opposition coalition the Union for National Salvation (USN) are either detained or undergoing judicial proceedings. One year after the signing of the Framework Agreement of December 30th, 2014 between the ruling coalition the UMP (Union for the Presidential Majority) and the coalition of opposition parties, the USN, the main provisions of the text have not been implemented and the authorities have engaged in the systematic repression of the opposition. This agreement was intended to put an end to the political crisis in the country and to ensure the holding of an inclusive and transparent presidential election. It provided for the reform of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and the creation of a parliamentary joint committee to organize the presidential election. Instead, President Ismaël Omar Guelleh has recently announced his intention to run for a fourth term at April 2016 presidential election.

"The government of Djibouti must put an end to the repression against human rights defenders and political activists and must finally implement the framework agreement concluded with the opposition otherwise the presidential election of April 2016 will be a democratic masquerade,"

our organizations

These human rights violations are being committed while the mobilization of the opposition intensifies, denouncing the authoritarian excesses of the regime and President Ismail Omar Guelleh’s intention to run for a fourth term after more than 15 years of ruling. This pattern of State violence exacerbatesthe fighting between the armed wing of the opposition the FRUD-armed (Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy) and the Djibouti army since August 2015.

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