On May 21st, 2023, a distressing report on human rights abuses in Djibouti emerged. The courageous act of Yasmin Ahmed Guedi, a Djiboutian mother, who shared a video addressing the dictator and seeking justice for her father’s death in a terrorist attack, shed light on the dire situation. Unfortunately, the response to her plea for justice was met with harsh consequences. Shortly after her public outcry on social media, Yasmin Ahmed Guedi, a disadvantaged citizen and a mother of seven children, was arrested. This alarming incident exposes the severe restrictions on freedom of expression and the reprisals faced by individuals who dare to assert their rights and express their grievances openly.
The apparent contradiction arises when considering the support given by NATO stationed countries such as the USA, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain to the Djiboutian dictatorship led by President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh (IOG). There have been numerous reports documenting human rights violations and undemocratic practices under his regime. Some of the reported abuses include:
Suppression of freedom of speech: Dissenting voices are targeted by the government, resulting in the arrest of individuals who express their opinions or criticize the regime, as exemplified by the case of Yasmin Ahmed Guedi.
Limited political freedom: Opposition parties and political activists face significant barriers, including constraints on their activities, intimidation, and harassment.
Electoral irregularities: Djibouti’s elections have been tainted by allegations of fraud, manipulation, and limited political competition, hindering the establishment of a genuinely democratic system.
Human rights violations: Security forces have been implicated in arbitrary arrests, torture, and ill-treatment of detainees. Additionally, the rights to assembly and association are curtailed.
Restricted media freedom: Independent media outlets encounter limitations, while journalists who report on sensitive issues or criticize the government face harassment and intimidation.
The situation in Djibouti raises serious concerns regarding human rights and democratic principles. The international community should take notice of these violations and work towards ensuring accountability and the protection of fundamental rights for all Djiboutian citizens.