600 Djiboutian political prisoners continue to be detained in Gabode prison, despite repeated calls for their release.
Importantly, many of these inmates are innocent political prisoners who should be released immediately. Those who are accused of a genuine crime must be trialled in a free and fair manner.
The basic needs of these prisoners are not being met, with a lack of food, sanitation and medical attention. It is clear that the prison system in Djibouti is insufficient to cater for this number of inmates.
The Union for National Salvation (USN) has stated that the prisoners’ lives are at risk due to the cruel conditions in the prison. The individual cells are hugely overcrowded, with a lack of ventilation resulting in temperatures of up to 49 degrees Celsius.
The international community has been made aware of the situation, with the UN, African Union, EU, Leagues of Arab States and Organization of the Islamic Conference all being briefed on the inhumane prison conditions. The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR) and the Djiboutian League of Human Rights (LDDH) have also repeatedly drawn attention to the situation, calling on members of the international community to condemn the human rights abuses of the Djibouti government.
However, the Djibouti government continues to let such human rights abuses persist.
Mr. Abdourahman Boreh said:
“The prisoners’ conditions in Gabode are of huge concern. It is time that the international community puts pressure on the Djibouti government to ensure that the physical and mental integrity of prisoners are protected and their safety is not jeopardised at any time. We cannot accept for detention conditions to be so harsh and poor that a politically motivated prison sentence risks becoming a death sentence.
“The prison system in Djibouti is not fit for human purpose. It was built in the colonial era for a population of less than 30 000. Today there are almost one million people living in Djibouti. The EU has recently built a prison for the Somali pirates, which meets the international standards. Surely, the Djibouti government should follow this example and take good care of its people that it has been failing miserably for decades”.