4 – Systematic violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Djibouti

The ITUC affiliate in Djibouti is the Union Djiboutienne du Travail (UDT).

The legislative elections of 22 February 2013 gave rise to mass protests against the government of President Ismail Omar Guelleh. The rallies and demonstrations held by the opposition were met with violent repression by security forces, who shot dead at least six people, including five opposition supporters and a school boy.

Many others were imprisoned on charges of “taking part in an illegal demonstration, inciting violence, disturbing the public order” or “participating in an insurrectional movement”. Hundreds of people were condemned to 18 months in prison coupled with the suspension of their civic rights for several years.

In practice

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International trade union mission obstructed by the authorities10-10-2017

A visit by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), mutually agreed upon between the labour minister of Gabon and the ITUC during the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
’s International Labour Conference in June 2017, was finally postponed until a later, undefined date, on 26 September, by the Ministry’s secretary general, just days ahead of the visit scheduled to take place from 2 to 4 October.
The Francophone trade union committee for education and training CSFEF (Comité Syndical Francophone de l’Éducation et de la Formation), and Education International (IE) were prevented from taking part in the visit. Jean Hervé Cohen of the CSFEF was not able to obtain a visa through Djibouti’s embassy in Paris, and Dominique Marlet from EI was turned back at the airport, despite holding a valid visa delivered by Djibouti’s embassy in Brussels.

Complaint submitted to the International Labour Organization02-07-2017

Trade unions affiliated to the UDT (Union Djiboutienne du Travail) and the UGTD (Union Générale des Travailleurs Djiboutiens) submitted a complaint to the director-general of the International Labour Office (ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
) in Geneva over the government’s manipulation of the trade union delegation during the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
’s International Labour Conference in June 2017. In a letter dated 22 May, the general secretaries of the UDT, Adan Mohamed Abdou, and the UGTD, Kamil Diraneh Hared, denounced that in spite of sending the Djiboutian labour minister the list of two representatives nominated by their trade unions, the government appointed a false delegation of persons that did not belong to their trade unions and were therefore usurping the names of the UDT and the UGTD.

Trade union leaders arrested for expressing solidarity with Turkish trade unions 30-03-2017

Omar Ali Ewado, deputy general secretary of the primary school teachers’ union SEP (Syndicat des Enseignants du Premier Degré de Djibouti) and the SEP’s general secretary, Ahmed Khadar Nour, were arrested by Djibouti’s intelligence services, the SDS, on 19 and 21 March, respectively.
The two union leaders were accused of defamation and offensive conduct after sending a letter to the Turkish president through the Turkish embassy in Djibouti. The letter, drawn up by Education International (EI), was part of a global solidarity campaign with the Turkish education union Egitim-Sen, and in protest at the dismissals and arrests of Turkish teachers since the failed coup of July 2016. The Education Ministry reportedly initiated disciplinary proceedings against them for “abandonment of post” during their detention.
Thanks to the large-scale mobilisation of the international education community, the two union leaders were finally released on 27 March after spending eight days behind bars. These arrests form part of a long line of detentions targeting members of the opposition and civil society and were made within the context of a very worrying anti-union climate in the country. The authorities have given no explanation for the arrests.

Union accounts have been frozen19-08-2013

The government is a shareholder in many banks and has frozen unions’ accounts and prevented unions from receiving external funds.

Promotion of yellow unions by the government19-08-2013

The government is providing financial resources to yellow unions which are represented in tripartite bodies and at international level.

Workers are excluded from freedom of association19-08-2013

Workers in companies such as Machida Transit and taxi drivers were prevented from establishing a union. Civil personnel in the French army were prevented from joining a union.

Infringements of basic freedoms30-06-2013

The General Secretary of the Union of Djibouti Workers was stopped from traveling to Geneva in June 2012 by the President of Djibouti.

Occupation of trade union office19-08-2013

The office of the Union of Djibouti Workers was occupied for one year by the Youth and Sports Ministry.

Intimidation of trade union leaders19-08-2013

Police are constantly watching the house of the General Secretary of the Union of Djibouti Workers. The General Secretary’s family received frequent threats so they had to move to Ethiopia.

Intervention in strike actions and anti-union discrimination19-08-2013
Harassment and repression immobilise unions31-12-2011

As in previous years, the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
expressed its deep concern at the government’s blatant lack of any real will to address several cases of trade unions rights violations. Trade union representatives and members are subjected to constant harassment by the authorities. The government accuses trade union activists of being enemies of the state, and as a such, they are arrested, imprisoned, transferred or dismissed. Strikes are brutally repressed. Organisations are refused registration or are made so weak that in effect they can no longer operate.

Trade union activities impossible in companies operating in export processing zone31-12-2010

Trade union activities have become impossible in certain companies operating under the export processing zone export processing zone A special industrial area in a country where imported materials are processed before being re-exported. Designed to attract mostly foreign investors by offering incentives such as exemptions from certain trade barriers, taxes, business regulations, and/or labour laws. regulations such as Port Secure Djibouti, Djibouti Container Services or Djibouti Labour Service. The absence of laws governing labour relations in the export processing zone export processing zone A special industrial area in a country where imported materials are processed before being re-exported. Designed to attract mostly foreign investors by offering incentives such as exemptions from certain trade barriers, taxes, business regulations, and/or labour laws. , in the national legislation and in the specific export processing zone export processing zone A special industrial area in a country where imported materials are processed before being re-exported. Designed to attract mostly foreign investors by offering incentives such as exemptions from certain trade barriers, taxes, business regulations, and/or labour laws. code, turns these companies into zones without rights. Workers who wish to remain anonymous, explained that their employers forbid all contact with trade unions and that they do not dare to demand better working conditions as the slightest complaint results in automatic dismissal.

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