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POGAR > Countries > Country Theme: Human Rights: Djibouti
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International Conventions

Djibouti has acceded to five of the seven major United Nations conventions on human rights, namely: the two International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights; on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2002), the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1998), the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1998) the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (2002), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990). It also acceded to the first and second optional protocols attached to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights concerning filing complaints by individuals and abolition of the death sentence (2002) and to the two optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (2006) and on the involvement of children in armed conflicts (2006).

Djibouti has also acceded to all eight International Labour Organization conventions pertaining to human rights, namely: the two conventions (87 and 98) on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining (1978), the two conventions (29 and 105) on Forced or Compulsory Labour (1978), the two conventions (100 and 111) concerning the Elimination of Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation (1978 and 2005 respectively), and the two conventions (138 and 182) pertaining to Forbidding the Employment of Children and Minors (2005).

Djibouti made reservations on "Child Rights Convention" and declared that it does not adhere to any provisions in the convention that are not compatible with its religion or its inherited values.

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Regional Charters

Djibouti has agreed to the "Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam" issued in 1990 by foreign ministers of Muslim countries. The declaration is a guiding document that does not require ratification. Djibouti also acceded to the "Arab Charter of Human Rights/Amended" prepared by the Arab Summit in Tunisia in May 2004. Djibouti had also acceded to the "African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights" (1991) and the Protocol on "Women's Rights" (2004).

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Human Rights Institutions

Djibouti has the position of "Umbudsman" who mediates between the government and non governmental organizations. A council for the advancement of women was established in 1999 chaired by a woman who held a position equivalent to that of a cabinet minister. There is also an official ombudsman who mediates between the government and non-governmental organizations. He mentioned in his 2004 report that his mediation was successful in half the cases referred to him. There are also a number of NGOs active in the area of human rights, most notable among them are: "Djiboutian Association for Human Rights", "Djiboutian Society for Defending Freedoms and Human Rights", "The Union of Djiboutian Women and the Djiboutian Association for Family Advancement" and "Society for the Support of Political Prisoners". The government had announced in 2000 its determination to establish a national human rights commission.

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Achievements on the Road to Good Governance

1. The government abolished in 2002, the restrictions stipulated by the 1992 constitution and opened the door for multiplicity of political parties and for establishing new parties during a limited period that enabled those parties to participate in legislative elections held in January 2003. Five new political parties were established during the specified period.
2. On October 22, 2002 the council of ministers approved a draft resolution that allocated 10% of the national assembly seats to women, that is 7 out of 65 seats.
3. The first legislative multi-party election took place on January 10, 2003 according to the lists system. The eight political parties split into two coalitions, each of which included four parties. The first coalition "The Union for Presidential Majority" was loyal to President Omar Gheela. The second coalition "The Union for Democratic Alternation" represented the opposition and was led by Mr. Ahmad Deeni. Twenty four women ran in the elections. The first coalition won 62.7% of votes that enabled them to occupy all seats of the national assembly. The opposition declared that the elections were fraudulent, but their accusation was ignored. Thus, the first experience in political pluralism ended as an extension to the single-party system.
4. Presidential election took place on April 8, 2005 amidst calls by opposition parties to boycott it because the prerequisites of holding free and democratic elections did not exist. President Gheela was the only candidate. The Ministry of Interior announced that the participation rate was 78.9% of registered voters and that Gheela received 100% of valid ballots; 5.7% of the voting ballots were invalid. President Gheela won a second six-year term in office.
5. In 2005, the government took important steps in combating corruption which is considered one of the country's major problems. The minister of finance suspended a number of officials in July 2005, two of whom were arrested until the time of trial. The director of "Jabood" prison was arrested on charges of corruption.

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