Civil society submits joint report ahead of Djibouti’s 2018 Universal Periodic Review

In a report submitted ahead of Djibouti’s May 2018 examination under the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR), DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) CIVICUS and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) call on the government to create an enabling environment for civil society. Despite receiving 14 recommendations to improve space for civil society during the second UPR cycle in 2013, the report shows that these remain completely unimplemented, and that human rights defenders (HRDs) and their organisations are relentlessly targeted by authorities.

Civil and political rights in Djibouti remains extremely limited, with national laws severely restricting active political and civil participation. Critical voices are not tolerated and since L’Aurore, Djibouti’s only privately owned media outlet was suspended in August 2016, there is no independent media left. HRDs, journalists, opposition members, and artists perceived to be challenging the authorities have been subjected to judicial harassment, arbitrary arrest and, in some cases, torture.

“As a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and with the results of its UPR examination, Djibouti should have all the tools necessary to create an open environment for civil society,” said the organisations. “The government should take immediate steps to meaningfully engage in the UPR process and to improve its human rights legal framework and practices.”

Under the UPR mechanism, the human rights situation in each of the 193 member states is reviewed every five years. The reviews are based on a national report prepared by the state, a compilation of UN information by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and a summary of information received from other stakeholders.