Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Djibouti

Arbitrary dismissal and harassment of Mr. Hassan Cher Hared44

On 25 May 2005, Mr. Hassan Cher Hared, secretary of the Postmen's Trade Union of Djibouti (Syndicat des Postiers de Djibouti), secretary for International Relations at the Djibouti Workers' Union (Union des travailleurs djiboutiens – UDT), and employee at the Post Office, was dismissed by Mr. Hillyeh Hassan Guirreh, general director of the Djibouti Post Office. Mr. Cher Hared was dismissed without advance notice for "aggravated professional mistakes, absenteeism and disobedience", after being suspended for eight days. In his notification letter, the general director qualified Mr. Cher Hared's militancy in favour of union rights as "irresponsible behaviour".

Mr. Cher Hared was dismissed following observations he had made on the financial management of the Post Office, deploring its unlawful expenditures. Mr. Cher Hared had also made statements in favour of economic, social and cultural rights on 1 May 2005, World Labour Day.

Having received this notification of dismissal, Mr. Cher Hared lodged three complaints against the general director of the Post Office for "embezzlement of part of the salaries, psychological harassment and abuse of power ". By the end of 2005, no follow-up had been made regarding these complaints.

On 21 June 2005, Mr. Cher Hared lodged a complaint with the Social Labour Court against the Djibouti Post Office, in order to be reinstated. By the end of 2005, this complaint was still being examined.

Furthermore, on 22 August 2005, Mr. Cher Hared was verbally assaulted by Mr. Hassan Guirreh while on the premises of the Post Office. He was held at the police station for two hours and was released thanks to the intervention of an Observatory mission that was in Djibouti at that time.

The next day, Mr. Cher Hared was forbidden access to the Post Office by security guards who said they had been given verbal orders to this effect by the director. He was taken to the police station where he was held again for two hours. In the meantime, after receiving the letter from Mr. Hillyeh Hassan Guirreh, the police officers informed him that he had been restored to his position and had been assigned to Balbala in the outskirts of Djibouti. Although Mr. Cher Hared is receiving his salary, he does not have a defined job. Furthermore, his transfer won't become legal until a decision is made to cancel his dismissal. By the end of 2005, discussions were underway between the Postmen's Trade Union and the Ministry on his official reintegration, with full rights.

Arbitrary detention and dismissal of several UTP leaders45

Following a general strike of employees of the port of Djibouti, from 14 to 17 September 2005, some 156 strikers and 12 trade union leaders were arbitrarily held in police custody from 24 to 26 September 2005.

During the night of 24 to 25 September 2005, Messrs. Ali Ibrahim Darar, Moustapha Abchir Egueh, Mohamed Ahmed Ali, Koulmiyeh Houssein, Wahib Ahmed Dini, Osman Galab Bouh, Ahmed Abdallah Houmed, Houssein Djama Bareh and Djibril Houssein Awaleh, leaders of the Port Workers Union (Union des travailleurs du port – UTP), were arrested by the police while trying to enter the port. The were held at the Nagad detention centre where they were notified of their dismissal for "obstructing freedom to work".

They were held in the offices of the criminal police until 28 September 2005 when they appeared before the Public Prosecutor who ordered their detention in the Gabode prison.

As a reaction to these arrests, the port workers went on strike again on the night of 24 to 25 September 2005. The national police forces (Forces nationales de police – FNP) arrested 110 strikers and union leaders and held them in the Nagad police school. FNP arrested other strikers on 25 September 2005.

Messrs. Kamil Mohamed Ali and Ibrahim Moussa Sultan, also UTP leaders, and Mr. Ali Ahmed Aras, UTP secretary general, were arrested, respectively, on 26 and 28 September 2005, in their homes. They were taken to the criminal police station. Messrs. Mohamed Ali and Moussa Sultan were notified of their dismissal and Mr. Ahmed Aras was given an early retirement.

On 2 October 2005, Messrs. Mohamed Ali, Moussa Sultan and Ahmed Aras were accused of "unlawful assembly" and "inciting rebellion" at the Court of First Instance of the Lower Criminal Court. The Court dismissed the case for lack of evidence.

The same day, the same court acquitted and released Messrs. Ali Ibrahim Darar, Moustapha Abchir Egueh, Mohamed Ahmed Ali, Koulmiyeh Houssein, Wahib Ahmed Dini, Osman Galab Bouh, Ahmed Abdallah Houmed, Houssein Djama Bareh and Djibril Houssein Awaleh who had been accused of "threats to commit an offence, the aforesaid threats being materialised through repeated public assembly" and "participation in gatherings on a public thoroughfare that could disturb public order".

However, on 3 October 2005, the Prosecutor's office introduced an appeal against those two decisions. The hearing before the Court of Appeal of Djibouti, scheduled for 7 December 2005, was postponed to 14, then 21, then to 28 December 2005. On that date, the decision was adjourned for deliberation until 4 January 2006, when the twelve trade union members were given a suspended prison term from one to two months.

Furthermore, all of the strikers and trade unionists who were arrested by FNP on 25 September 2005 at the port of Djibouti or in their homes were released, without being charged, on 26 and 27 September 2005. Thirty-six of them, however, including Messrs. Ali Ibrahim Darar, Moustapha Abchir Egueh, Mohamed Ahmed Ali, Koulmiyeh Houssein, Djibril Houssein Awaleh and Messrs. Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed, Samira Hassan Mohamed, Mohamed Abdilahi Dirieh and Mohamed Abdillahi Omar, also trade union leaders, were not able to resume their posts because of the dismisal of which they were notified on 24 September 2005.

Arrest and arbitrary detention of Mr. Jean-Paul Noël Abdi46

On 14 December 2005, Mr. Jean-Paul Noël Abdi, president of the Djiboutian Human Rights League (Ligue djiboutienne des droits humains – LDDH), was arrested when he was on his way to responding to a summon from Commander Wabéri of FNP. Mr. Noël Abdi was transferred to the Nagad transit centre and then to the Police school in that same town. At no time did he receive a warrant for arrest. He was released late in the evening following the mobilisation of several national and international organisations on his behalf before the authorities. While in custody, the judicial police interrogated Mr. Noël Abdi about his public statements and the joint FIDH / LDDH press release on the brutal repression exercised by the security police that caused the death of at least six residents of the Arhiba district of Djibouti-city, who were trying to oppose the destruction of their houses by the public authorities on 30 November 2005.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

44. See Urgent Appeal DJI 001/0605/OBS 042.

45. See Urgent Appeals DJI 002/0905/OBS 084 and 084.1, and Press Release, 22 December 2005.

46. See LDDH Press Release, 14 December 2005.


This 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.