Djibouti: Political Opponents Arbitrarily Detained at Gabode Prison in Violation of Criminal Procedure Code
Alkarama and the Djiboutian League for Human Rights (LDDH) deplore the decision of the Tribunal of Djibouti City, which sentenced, on 4 October 2015, Abdoulkarim Djama Guedi, Hamze Reyeh Hassan, Yahye Elmi Younis, Ibrahim Hassan Abdi and Said Ali Miguil to a conditional one year prison sentence for an alleged "illegal demonstration". Alkarama and the LDDH also express concern about the arbitrary detention of these people, as well as of Mahamoud Robleh Miré, subject to an acquittal on the same day, in violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Since their arrest by the gendarmerie of Dikhil during a peaceful demonstration on 18 September 2015, Alkarama and the LDDH have been working for the release of these political opponents and have sent urgent appeals on their cases to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (SR FPAA) on 22 September. Detained at the gendarmerie with about 50 other opponents, these six persons have not yet been able to benefit from their right to a doctor and a lawyer. While most of those arrested have been released by the authorities, the above mentioned persons were taken into custody on 22 September at Gabode prison to await their appearance before the Tribunal on 27 September.
On that day, still deprived of their fundamental rights, these six persons finally had their cases transferred to 4 October after an expeditious appearance. During this final appearance, five of them were sentenced – as a result of an unfair trial in which their right to a lawyer was violated – to a conditional one-year prison sentence, while the Tribunal pronounced the release of Mahamoud Robleh Miré.
While Article 362 of the Djiboutian Code of Criminal Procedure provides for the immediate release of any person acquitted or subject to a suspended sentence, including cases where an appeal has been filed, these six persons are still currently held in Gabode prison in difficult conditions. Authorities pretext that their continued detention is justified by an appeal filed by the Prosecutor of Djibouti, while the laws in force exclude this hypothesis.
"Beyond a politically-motivated verdict, the fact that the judicial authorities keep these six opponents in custody in violation of Djiboutian laws underlines all the more the arbitrary character of the procedure that was unleashed against them," says Mr. Zakaria Abdillahi Ali, a lawyer and president of the LDDH. "The entire procedure against them, ranging from deprivation of the right to a lawyer and a doctor as well as their current arbitrary detention, is in violation of international standards on fair trial and must stop immediately."
Alkarama and LDDH call again on the authorities to immediately cease the arbitrary detention of Abdulkarim Djama Guedi, Hamze Reyeh Hassan, Yahye Elmi Younis, Ibrahim Hassan Abdi, Said Ali Miguil and Mahamoud Robleh Miré and cancel the conditional sentences issued against the first five mentioned. The authorities must stop the harassment and intimidation of opposition members and ensure the existence of a democratic space for dialogue, where there is no fear of arrest or intimidation.
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