Six Political Opponents in Dikhil Released but Still At Risk of New Conviction By the Court of Appeal

Union for National Salvation

On 11 October 2015, the Djibouti Court of Appeal accepted the request to release the young members of the Union for National Salvation (USN) – the opposition coalition – and the Opposition Youth Movement (MJO), as well as two USN leaders, arrested on 18 September for having participated in a demonstration and arbitrarily detained in Gabode prison since 4 October following a first instance trial.

On 4 October, Abdulkarim Djama Guedi, Hamze Reyeh Hassan, Yahye Elmi Younis and the elected USN deputy Ibrahim Hassan Abdi and USN leader in Djibouti, Said Ali Miguil were sentenced by the Court of Djibouti City to one year suspended sentence for having participated in an “illegal demonstration”, while Mahamoud Robleh Miré was acquitted. None of them, however, was released at the end of the trial, despite Article 362 of the Djiboutian Code of Criminal Procedure, which provides for the immediate release of any person acquitted or sentenced with a suspended sentence.

It then took a week before their release request was finally accepted by the Court of Appeal and the arbitrary detention of the six opponents came to an end. They remain however at risk of a new conviction, since the Court did not rule on the merits of the case. Moreover, both the first-instance judgment and the Court’s decision of 11 October ordering their statutory release remain unavailable to this day, preventing the due course of the criminal procedure.

“The release of these six people is good news, but they should never have been detained in the first place, since their arrests result from the exercise of their legitimate right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” says Mr. Zakaria Abdillahi Ali, the victims’ lawyer and president of the LDDH. “We hope that the Court of Appeal will pronounce itself – if it ever does – on a decision to acquit the six accused and that it will end this arbitrary procedure.”

On 22 September, Alkarama and the Djibouti Human Rights League (LDDH) requested the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association (RS RPA), after their arrest on 18 September, to intervene to the authorities calling for their release.

Alkarama and the LDDH call for the authorities to halt the proceedings against Abdulkarim Djama Guedi, Hamze Reyeh Hassan, Yahye Elmi Younis, Ibrahim Hassan Abdi, Said Ali Miguil et Mahamoud Robleh Miré and to annul the suspended penalties imposed on the first five opponents.

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Source: Alkarama Foundation

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