Relations with Eritrea renewed, while non-commitment to human rights recommendations is criticized


Following the adoption Djibouti’s Universal Periodic Review report by the UN Human Rights Council in September 2018, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (DefendDefenders) and the Djiboutian Observatory for the Promotion of Demo­cracy and Human Rights (ODDH)  highlighted the government’s willingness to only accept vague recommendations, and the lack of consistency of some of its replies. The organisations also noted that Djibouti was yet to implement recommendations which it had committed to implement, from its previous review in 2013.

Hassan Shire, Executive Director, Defend Defenders said;

"We fear that the inconsistencies we identified in Djibouti's replies reflect a lack of political will on the part of the government to implement its obligations… it is particularly worrying [that the] government accepted to 'prevent the use of excessive force [against] civilians,' yet refused to accept a more precise recommendation is 'Improving training programs for security force to put an end to acts of violent repression of peaceful demonstrations'."

Djibouti has received experts on the human rights situation in Somalia and Eritrea, but has never accepted any visit requests by other mandate holders concerning its own human rights situation. In an annual report from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released on 12th September 2018, Djibouti featured on a list of 38 countries the UN said carried out "shameful" practices including harsh reprisals and intimidation against people cooperating with it on human rights, as well as ill-treatment, detention, surveillance, and public stigmatisation of victims and human rights defenders.

On 12th September, it was reported that Djibouti and Eritrea would soon normalize relations, ending a decade-long rivalry between the two neighbouring countries. The dispute stemmed from a 2008 border skirmish that left several dead, leaving relations frozen for years despite several attempts at mediation. The thawing of relations comes three months after Eritrea entered into an agreement to renew relations with Ethiopia after decades of rivalry, as previously reported on the CIVICUS Monitor.