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Djibouti: Whether the Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development (Mouvement pour le renouveau démocratique et le développement, MRD) was disbanded by the 9 July 2008 presidential decree; treatment of MRD members by authorities; the existence of secret detention centres, including those designated as Brigades

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 19 November 2010
Citation / Document Symbol DJI103638.FE
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Djibouti: Whether the Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development (Mouvement pour le renouveau démocratique et le développement, MRD) was disbanded by the 9 July 2008 presidential decree; treatment of MRD members by authorities; the existence of secret detention centres, including those designated as Brigades, 19 November 2010, DJI103638.FE, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4de46bd52.html [accessed 18 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Several sources consulted by the Research Directorate pointed out that the Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development (Mouvement pour le renouveau démocratique et le développement, MRD), an opposition political party, was banned in July 2008 (EU 15 Jan. 2009; US 11 Mar. 2010, Sect. 3; LesNouvelles.org 11 July 2008).

An 11 July 2008 article posted on LesNouvelles.org, the online version of Les Nouvelles d'Addis, a newspaper that publishes articles on Ethiopia and the East Africa region (LesNouvelles.org n.d.), indicates that on 9 July 2008, the president of Djibouti, Ismaíl Omar Guelleh, ordered the disbandment of the MRD (LesNouvelles.org 11 July 2008). The Djiboutian authorities reportedly accused the leader of the MRD, Daher Ahmed Farah, of sending a letter to the Eritrean president, Issayas Afeworki, encouraging him to [translation] "'invade'" the Republic of Djibouti (LesNouvelles.org 11 July 2008; PANA 11 July 2008). Two sources report that, according to the presidential decree, [translation] "the assets of the Movement for Democratic Renewal will be liquidated in compliance with the provisions of its statutes or, failing that, in compliance with the provisions governing associations" (PANA 11 July 2008; MRD 10 July 2008). No further information on the events that followed this decree could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

In a resolution adopted in January 2009, the European Union's (EU) Parliament pointed out that the charges brought by the Djiboutian authorities against the MRD were [EU English version] "unsubstantiated" (EU 15 Jan. 2009). Furthermore, two sources state that following the MRD disbandment, there has never been a legal proceeding on this matter (ARDHD 4 Nov. 2010; LDDH 4 Nov. 2010).

Treatment of MRD members

According to the LesNouvelles.org article, the MRD, its leader and the party's newspaper, Le Renouveau, have been subject to the [translation] "wrath" of the Djiboutian authorities (11 July 2008). Two sources consulted by the Research Directorate state that since the MRD disbandment in 2008, its members have been working underground (ARDHD 4 Nov. 2010; LDDH 4 Nov. 2010). In a 4 November 2010 telephone interview with the Research Directorate, the president of the Human Rights Djiboutian League (Ligue djiboutienne des droits de l'homme, LDDH) explained that like other opponents of the ruling regime, authorities subject MRD members to [translation] "intense moral pressure" and [translation] "discrimination", especially in employment. Business people who provided financial support to the MRD reportedly had to pay the authorities three times more taxes than what they were supposed to pay (LDDH 4 Nov. 2010). In a 4 November 2010 telephone interview with the Research Directorate, a representative from the Association for the Respect of Human Rights in Djibouti (Association pour le respect des droits de l'homme à Djibouti, ARDHD), a Djiboutian human rights non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Paris (ARDHD n.d.), stated that MRD members are generally harassed by the authorities, especially during popular demonstrations. The ARDHD representative specified that he knows a few MRD members who are in prison, but added that they had never told him that they had been [translation] "physically mistreated" or [translation] "tortured" (4 Nov. 2010). Often, the people who are mistreated by the authorities do not complain to his organization out of fear of reprisals (ibid.).

The Brigades and other detention centres

According to two sources consulted by the Research Directorate, the Brigades are secret detention centres located in the police training school (ARDHD 4 Nov. 2010; LDDH 4 Nov. 2010). The ARDHD representative pointed out that, in addition to the Brigades, there are a number of secret detention centres, specifically in the headquarters of the army, police and intelligence services (ARDHD 4 Nov. 2010). The representative added that there are other detention centres that are called Negades (ibid.). Information on whether any MRD members are or have been detained in these secret detention centres could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Association pour le respect des droits de l'homme à Djibouti (ARDHD). 4 November 2010. Telephone interview with a representative.

_____. N.d. "Informations légales et contacts." [Accessed 16 Nov. 2010]

European Union (EU). 15 January 2009. European Parliament. Résolution du Parlement européen du 15 janvier 2009 sur la situation dans la Corne de l'Afrique. [Accessed 2 Nov. 2010]

Ligue djiboutienne des droits de l'homme (LDDH). 4 November 2010. Telephone interview with the president.

Mouvement pour le renouveau démocratique et le développement (MRD). 10 July 2008. Daher Ahmed Farah. "Djibouti, MRD, communiqué de presse : 'Un parti est fait de femmes et d'hommes, non de l'arbitraire du prince'." (LesNouvelles.org) [Accessed 2 Nov. 2010]

LesNouvelles.org. [Montmirail, France]. 11 July 2008. Colette Delsol. "Daher Ahmed Farah, leader du Mouvement pour le renouveau démocratique, accusé de trahison." [Accessed 2 Nov. 2010]

_____. N.d. "Qui nous-sommes?" [Accessed 2 Nov. 2010]

PANApress (PANA). 11 July 2008. "Djibouti : dissolution d'un parti de l'opposition." (Afrique en ligne) [Accessed 2 Nov. 2010]

United States (US). 11 March 2010. Department of State. "Djibouti." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009. [Accessed 2 Nov. 2010]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Attempts to contact the representatives of the MRD and of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Djibouti were unsuccessful.

Internet sites, including: African Political Parties and Organizations, African Studies Center (University of Pennsylvania), Afrik.com, Afrol News, AllAfrica.com, Amnesty International (AI), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Crime and Society, a Comparative Criminology Tour of the World, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, InfoSud Belgique (InfoSud), Internationale de l'éducation (IE), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Le Monde diplomatique [Paris], MRD, La Nation [Djibouti], Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF), Organisation de la presse africaine (APO), Radio France internationale (RFI), Reuters, Union interafricaine des droits de l'homme (UIDH), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations — Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), La Voix de Djibouti, World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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