PRESS RELEASE ON THE HARRASSMENT OF Mr. Jean-Paul Noël Abdi
Banjul, 16 March 2007. The Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Adv. Reine Alapini-Gansou, expresses her profound concern following information she received regarding the ongoing harrassment of a human rights defender, Mr.Jean-Paul Noël Abdi, president of the Human Rights League of Djibouti « Ligue djiboutienne des droits humains » (LDDH).
The Special Rapporteur expresses particular concern following reports regarding the confiscation of Mr.Jean-Paul Noël Abdi's passport, half an hour after his temporary release by the President of First Instance Court Flagrant Offence Chamber ( Chambre des flagrants délits du Tribunal de première instance) of Djibouti on the 11th March 2007. After his prison release, two military officers under the order of Lieutenant Colonel Omar H. Hassan may have gone to the residence of Mr. Jean-Paul Noël Abdi to seize his passport for the purpose of preventing him from going to Burkina Faso where he was conveyed to a congress of the inter-African Union of human rights on the 15 th March 2007.
According to independent sources, on the 9th March 2007, Mr. Jean-Paul Noël Abdi may have been arrested at his home at nine o'clock in the morning and taken to the criminal brigade. He may have stayed in the police custody until one o'clock before being transferred to Gabode prison on Saturday 10 th March 2007, under the Director of Public Prosecutions decision.
The Special Rapporteur is extremely concerned that the ongoing acts of harassment against Mr. Jean-Paul Noël Abdi may be related to his legitimate work of human Rights protection and promotion, and particularly to the discovery and exposure by his NGO of a mass grave in Day Village (district of Tadjourah) comprising of seven bodies of civilians who may have been killed by the Government forces on the 1 st January 1994.
The Special Rapporteur urges the Republic of Djibouti to immediately hand back Mr. Jean-Paul Noël Abdi's passport, to allow him to travel and also to guarantee his physical and psychological integrity in all circumstances.She further urges the Djibouti authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure that all human rights defenders in the Republic of Djibouti can carry out their legitimate human rights work without fear of reprisal. She also calls upon the Republic of Djibouti to guarantee a fair trial to Mr. Jean-Paul Noël Abdi in the spirit of article 7 of the Charter of the African Commission for Human and People's Rights.
The Special Rapporteur also reminds the Government of its responsibility under the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, with particular reference to Articles 1 and 12.3 and under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Government is also respectfully reminded of its obligations under the Grand Bay and Kigali Declarations and other international human rights instruments ratified by Djibouti, particularly the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights .