February 19, 2008

HRLHA Urgent Action: An Appeal to the President of Djibouti


Appeal To: The President of Djibouti

February 18,2008

His Excelency Ismail Omar Guelleh

President, The Republic of Djibouti

Po Box 185

Tel. (253) 35 39 95

Fax- (253) 35 39 40


Your Excellency,

Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa(HRLHA) recieved from its informants in Djibouti a report that your Government’s security forces have arbitrarly arrested four very young Ethiopian refugees on Feburuary 01, 2008 in violation of international treaties to which, we believe, Djibouti is a signatory. All four refugees were picked up and taken to the Lagad Detention Center by the Djibouti scurity force on their way to the refugee camp from school, which they have been attending. The school was set up by Catholic church of Djibouti particulary to help children of the refugees in Djibouti.

It was very saddening to hear that they were tortured while they were in the detention centre; and that they are going to be deported to Ethiopia. We have confirmed from our reporters that,until their deportation date arrived, these teenagers who could be addressed as children, were forced to do very heavy labor in a very harsh situation on a construction site for 12hrs every day.

The names of the four youths abducted and subjected to the hard child labour are:

  1. Kadir Hasan Ahmed, age 17, male
  2. Fatih Mohamed Ali, age 16, male
  3. Abdul Aziz Ahmed Hajii muhamed, age 17, male and
  4. Muhamed Abdoo Ahmed, age 17, male.

The Ethiopian Government has a well-documented record of gross and flagrant violations of human rights, including the torturing of its own citizens who were involuntarily returned to the country. The government of Ethiopia routinely imprisons such persons. There have been credible reports of physical and psychological abuse committed against individuals in Ethiopian prisons and other places of detention. Under Article 33 (1) of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (189 U.N.T.S. 150), to which Djibouti is a party, “[n]o contracting state shall expel or forcibly return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his . . . political opinion.” This obligation, which is also a principle of customary international law, applies to both asylum seekers and refugees, as affirmed by UNHCR’s Executive Committee and the United Nations General Assembly

By deporting the four Youths, the Djibouti government will be breaching its obligations under international treaties and customary law.

    • Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) adopted by the UN General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989 and entered into force on 2 September 1990, Djibouti has an obligation not to expose under-age children to heavy child labour.
    • Under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1465 U.N.T.S. 185) to which Djibouti acceded in 2002, Djibouti has an obligation not to return a person to a place where they face torture or ill-treatment. Article 3 of the Convention against Torture provides:

      1. No state party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds to believe that they would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the state concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.

We strongly urge the Government of Djibouti to respect the international treaties and obligations it has signed..


Two young refugees, Umar Aliye 16, and Abdulfattah Abdulattif, who were abducted by the Djibouti police from the steet on their way from the school to their refugee camp, who were also forced to do hard child labour in hard situation on constration sites, were deported to Ethiopia in November 2007 and their whereabouts is unknown( HRLHA press release No 4 November 2007).

HRLHA urges the Djibouti Government to revise its policies and procedures so as to ensure compliance with the international conventions and declarations on refugees’ rights and protection; and release these four refugees from prison.

The HRLHA is a non-political organization which attempts to challenge abuses of human rights of the people of various nations and nationalities in the Horn of Africa. It works on defending fundamental human rights including freedoms of thought, expression, movement and association. It also works on raising the awareness of individuals about their own basic human rights and that of others. It encourages the observances as well as due processes of law. It promotes the growth and development of free and vigorous civil societies.


Garoma Wakessa
Executive Director
Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa


Embassy of the Republic of Djibouti

(High Comission) Consulate to Canada

3525 Durocher street, Apt. 91 Montereal Quebec H2X 2E7

Phone (+1 – 514) 2888297

Fax (+1 – 514) 2888297

Email – elisabethdembil@yahoo.ca


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