Activists detained for exercising freedom of expression


On 21st October 2018, youth activist Abdisalam Ismael was arrested by Djiboutian security forces for allegedly sharing photos online of President Ismail Omar Guelleh sleeping during an international summit. He was held at the notorious Gabode Prison and activists have expressed concern over his potential ill-treatment.

On 8th July 2019, according to the Ligue Djiboutienne des Droits Humains, human rights defender Degmo Ali Abdi was arrested by security forces. Degmo, whose online activism often focuses on high-level corruption and the misappropriation of public funds in Djibouti, was arrested after he made a speech on corruption that linked high level government officials in the Djibouti regime. The country remains one of the most repressive for freedom of expression in the region, and ranked 173 out of 180 in Reporters Without Borders’ 2019 World Press Freedom Index.


In September 2019, the Djiboutian government released 19 Eritrean Prisoners of War (POWs) who were detained in Djibouti for 11 years - they will be resettled in Canada. Captured during the Djiboutian-Eritrean border conflict in 2008, the 19 Eritreans were detained in the Negad detention centre in Djibouti. The Eritrean regime did not acknowledge that Djibouti had any Eritrean POWs in custody, even though their presence there had been repeatedly brought to the notice of the Eritrean authorities by the International Committee of the Red Cross.