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Djibouti: Human rights activist arrested

Action Requested: The president of the Djiboutian League of Human Rights was arrested after he recorded and shared information about alleged arbitrary arrests following student protests in Djibouti City. He had also tried to visit the students in detention. On Feb. 9 he was charged with participation in an insurrectional movement. These charges carry a possible 15 year jail sentence and heavy fines. Please write to targets listed below to intervene on his behalf. JS

Act By: 15 March 2011

Sponsor: Amnesty International Target: Djiboutian government officials
Action Site: http://www.amnesty.ca/urgentaction/ Other Contact Info: UrgentAction@amnesty.ca

African Charter Article #9: Every individual shall have the right to receive information and express their opinions. (Click for full text...)

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UA 28/11                                                                                                   
AI Index: AFR 23/001/2011
11 February 2011

Djibouti:  Human rights activist arrested

On 9 February, Jean-Paul Nokl Abdi, the president of the Djiboutian League of Human Rights (Ligue djiboutienne des droits humains, LDDH), was arrested after he investigated and reported on arrests following recent student protests in the Republic of Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa.

The National Police arrested Jean-Paul Nokl Abdi on 9 February and he was taken to the police headquarters located in Djibouti City (Djibouti-Ville).

Later on the same afternoon, he was brought before the Prosecutor General (Procureur de la République) who charged him with participation in an insurrectional movement (“participation à un mouvement insurrectional”) under articles 145 and 146.4 of the Penal Code. The charges carry a possible 15 year jail sentence and a fine of seven million Djiboutian francs (around 40,000 USD). He was then transferred to Gabode Prison, Djibouti City.

On 5 and 6 February, Jean-Paul Nokl Abdi recorded and shared information about alleged arbitrary arrests following student protests in Djibouti City. He had also tried to visit the students in detention. Another Djiboutian human rights defender has also reported the arrest of at least seven opposition party members, from the Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development and the Union for Democracy and Justice.

Student protests took place on 5 February and were in response to a low pass rate this year and the quality of the education system. Local sources believe that the protests have become increasingly political. The international media has reported civil unrest and low-level violence, including rock throwing and looting.

Presidential elections are scheduled for April 2011. Opposition parties refused to take part in the 2005 and 2008 elections because their demands for changes in the electoral process were not met.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in French or English. Using your own words,
* express grave concern that human rights defender, Jean-Paul Nokl Abdi, has been detained on charges of participating in an insurrectional movement, apparently for investigating and reporting on arbitrary arrests following the recent student protests;
* urge the authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression;
* call on them to ensure that all Djiboutian human rights defenders can work freely and independently and with the full protection of the state.

President of the Republic:
Ismail Omar Guelleh 
Palais Présidentiel
BP 6
Djibouti Ville 
République de Djibouti
Fax:   011 253 35 5049
Salutation:  Your Excellency / Dear President

Minister of Justice:
Mohamed Barkat Abdillahi
Ministre de la Justice
BP 12 
Djibouti Ville
République de Djibouti  
Fax:   011 253 35 5420
Salutation:  Dear Minister

His Excellency Roble Olhaye
Ambassador for the Republic of Djibouti
1156 - 15th Street NW, Suite 515
Washington, DC 20005, USA
Fax:   (202) 331-0302
E-mail:   usdjibouti@aol.com

Public Prosecutor Maki Omar Abdoulkader 
Fax:   011 253 35 6990
E-mail:  likmik@caramail.com

The political space in Djibouti is dominated by the People’s Rally for Progress (RFP) headed by President Ismail Omar Guelleh, who won a second term in 2005. In 2010, the Djiboutian parliament voted in favour of amending the constitution to allow the President to run for a third term. 

Urgent Action Office   Amnesty International Canada  
1992 Yonge St, 3rd floor   Toronto, Ontario M4S 1Z7
(416) 363 9933 ext 325   /   Fax (416) 363 3103


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Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s) and not do necessarily reflect the views of the AfricaFiles' editors and network members. They are included in our material as a reflection of a diversity of views and a variety of issues. Material written specifically for AfricaFiles may be edited for length, clarity or inaccuracies.

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