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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                

Republic of Djibouti

Security forces regularly engage in physical abuse and torture during arrest and detention.

[Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: Djibouti

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Djibouti.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Djibouti

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 16 July 2021]


There were numerous reported abuses similar to the following examples. On April 22, air force Lieutenant Fouad Youssouf Ali circulated videos on social media critical of the government and fled the country in a military plane, which he then crashed. He was extradited back to the country from Ethiopia and held in detention at Gabode Prison under charges of treason and theft of a military airplane. His lawyer received access to him on May 13, weeks after his arrest. His lawyer stated that his client was in poor health and detained in filthy and inhuman cell conditions. On June 3, Lieutenant Fouad released a video of his detention conditions, showing a dirty, windowless isolation cell, largely taken up by a latrine, and revealed a severe skin condition resulting from prison conditions. His descriptions of degrading and inhuman treatment led to social unrest when the video went viral on social media. It triggered protests and confrontations between protesters and law enforcement, resulting in civilian arrests and injuries. Many of those arrested complained of torture and detention in filthy conditions.


On July 15, Charmake Said Darar, a journalist from the Voice of Djibouti, one of the country’s only independent streaming platforms, was arrested after covering the case of Lieutenant Fouad and taking pictures of demonstrations in Djibouti City. On his first night in custody, he was handcuffed for several hours with his hands behind his back. He did not eat for four days, either as a protest against his detention or due to fear of being poisoned. Darar’s house was searched, his family complained of being intimidated and harassed, and his personal and work equipment including his identification documents were taken. On August 4, Darar was released without being charged, but some of his belongings remained in the custody of law enforcement.

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 12 May 2020]


Security forces regularly engage in physical abuse and torture during arrest and detention. In March 2017, cartoonist Idriss Hassan Mohamed was arbitrarily detained for several days and reportedly suffered a broken leg due to abuse in custody after he posted criticism of the government on Facebook.

Radio journalist threatened and tortured for 24 hours

Reporters Without Borders,41800.html

[accessed 21 Jan 2014]

“I was in Djibouti City yesterday waiting for a meeting. It was 11:30 am. Two men in a car with tinted windows stopped next to me. It was a uniformed policeman and a man in plain clothes. They asked me to get in. I refused but they forced me into the car. They blindfolded me so that I did not know where they were taking me. I found myself in a cell. They removed my clothes and handcuffed me, and that is how I spent the night, sleeping on the floor.

“They beat my feet very violently with pieces of rubber. They also broke my glasses. ‘We’ve had enough of you,’ they said. ‘You must stop broadcasting information about us. You must stop bothering the police and the Department for Investigation and Documentation. It will be the worse for you if you continue.’ At midday today, they brought me my clothes and blindfolded me again. Then they drove me to a piece of waste ground in the Gabode 4 district and left me there.”

Reporters Without Borders has decided to refer this matter to the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and will remain in regular contact with Hildid in order to be kept informed of his security situation.

Repeated arrests used to hound independent journalists

Reporters Without Borders,45644.html

[accessed 21 Jan 2014]

Houssein was re-arrested yesterday as he was going to Hodan police station, where he had previously been held, to recover personal effects. He is now being held at Nagad detention centre, where he has reportedly been tortured and is now on hunger strike.

Houssein was previously arrested together with Sahal Elmi Talan, a young reporter, as they were covering the eviction of street vendors by police from Djibouti City’s central market on 14 December. They were released two days later.

While detained, Houssein was hit with force on the ear by the police director-general, Col. Abdillahi Aldi Fara, in person. A medical certificate confirms that the blow ruptured his eardrum. Houssein had also been arrested and roughed up on 4 December.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/DJI/CO/1 (2011)

[accessed 27 February 2013]

Acts of torture

9. The Committee notes with concern the State party’s acknowledgement that abuses, notably acts of torture, have been committed by police officers in Djibouti in the performance of their duties. The Committee is particularly concerned about the fact that there has been no serious investigation of these cases, which has contributed to a situation in which such offences go unpunished (arts. 2 and 12).

The Committee invites the State party to take immediate and specific measures to investigate and, when appropriate, to prosecute and punish acts of torture. Moreover, the Committee invites the State party to: ensure that law enforcement personnel do not resort to torture under any circumstances; publicly and unambiguously reaffirm the absolute prohibition of torture; condemn the practice of torture, especially by the police and prison officers; and make it clear that anyone who commits, is complicit in or participates in such acts will be held personally responsible before the law, will be subject to criminal prosecution and will be punished accordingly.

Impunity for acts of torture and ill-treatment

10. The Committee takes note of the State party’s recognition that acts of torture have taken place and have neither been investigated nor prosecuted. In particular, it notes the absence of specific information on prosecutions initiated, sentences pronounced or disciplinary sanctions imposed on police or prison officers found guilty of acts of torture or ill-treatment. The Committee also notes the State party’s acknowledgement that the weakness of domestic legislation contributes to impunity (arts. 2, 4, 12, 13 and 16).

The State party should ensure that all allegations of torture or ill-treatment are the subject of prompt, impartial, thorough and effective investigations and that the perpetrators are prosecuted and sentenced to penalties commensurate with the grave nature of the acts committed, as required by article 4 of the Convention, without prejudice to appropriate disciplinary sanctions. The State party should also take all appropriate legal measures to fully remedy this impunity.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 31 December 2018]

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Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 24 January 2013]

[accessed 3 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices; however, there continued to be reports that police and gendarmes beat and physically abused prisoners and detainees.

In March police arrested and reportedly beat Warris Mouhoumed, a businesswoman who refused police orders to close her restaurant during the two-week election campaign. Police charged that patrons of her restaurant, a gathering place for members of the opposition, insulted and threatened passersby. Mouhoumed was released the following day, and her restaurant remained closed for two weeks.

No action was taken against the two police officers responsible for the April 2004 assault on and arrest of opposition figure Mohamed Darar Waberi.

Members of police vice squads targeted prostitutes on the streets and reportedly raped them as a precondition for their release.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 5   Civil Liberties: 5   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 24 January 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 12 May 2020]

The judicial system is based on the French civil code, although Sharia (Islamic law) prevails in family matters. The courts are not independent of the government. The Constitutional Council is charged with ensuring the constitutionality of laws and protecting the individual, but in practice its rulings do not always uphold civil and human rights. Security forces often make arrests without a proper decree from a judicial magistrate, in violation of constitutional requirements. Security forces at times have physically abused prisoners and detainees. Prison conditions remain harsh, and overcrowding is a serious problem. No action has been taken against security personnel who used excessive force to disperse demonstrations in previous years.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Djibouti",, [accessed <date>]