21/04/99 Djibouti : U.A.E. – HUMAN RIGHTS


We must
help MOHAMED AREF to become free !

last March, with the AFADD and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights,  » UAE-HUMAN
RIGHTS  » expressed its concern about the imprisonment of lawyer and human
rights advocate Aref Mohamed Aref
(see JDDH March 1999).

Mr. Aref
has been imprisoned and repeatedly harassed by the Djibouti government in
relation to his human rights activities.

On February
15, 1999 Mr. Aref was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment on charges
of attempted fraud that are widely believed to have been fabricated by the
authorities in order to prevent him from voicing his concerns in the upcoming
electoral period. In our February appeal we reported that Mr. Aref was deprived
of any legal representation in the case brought against him.

New information
reveals that one Djibouti lawyer was permitted to plead before the court in
his defense. As others organizations ; we are pleased to learn that Mr. Aref
was permitted some legal representation, however we remain concerned that
he was deprived of the counsel of his choice contrary to Article 7 of the
African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

As described
in the February appeal, Mr. Aref sought legal representation from abroad and
of the three lawyers willing to represent him, two were denied visas and a
third was denied the right to plead before the court in contravention of a
bilateral treaty between France and Djibouti.

the Lawyers Committee remains concerned that the procedural irregularities
leading up to Mr. Aref’s trial seriously casts into doubt whether Mr. Aref
has enjoyed the right to a fair trial as guaranteed by the African Charter
and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Mr. Aref has now spent more than a month in detention under conditions that
fall far short of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment
of Prisoners and the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons
under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment.

is being kept in a cell infested with cockroaches and mosquitoes, in which
it is too small to lie flat, and which has no roof to protect him from the

Action Please refer to the fuller details of this case contained in the February
1999 Lawyer to Lawyer appeal.

We encourage
you to write courteous letters to the Djibouti authorities listed below, protesting
the imprisonment of Aref Mohamed Aref.

note in your letters that the legal process in Mr. Aref’s case fell far short
of the internationally guarantied right to a fair trial, essential components
of which are access to legal assistance of the defendant’s choice and clear
specification of criminal charges.

Call for
the immediate release of Mr. Aref and the suspension of all hearings against
him pending the decision of the Supreme Court of Djibouti regarding the validity
of the charges against him.

please highlight the importance of upholding the principles of the Declaration
on Human Rights Defenders, which seeks to guarantee an environment where human
rights defenders are free to carry out their work free from official harassment.

Please send
copies of your letters, not noted on the original, to Vittoria Fariello at
the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.

If you are
writing after April 15, or if you require further information, please contact
Ms. Fariello at (212) 845-5298.


Mohamed Dini Farah
Ministre de la Justice Ministère de la Justice
BP 12 Djibouti
République de Djibouti
Fax: +253 35 54

Elmi Obsieh Wais
Ministre de l’Interieur

Ministère de l’Interieur
PO Box 6 Djibouti
République de Djibouti

Copies to:

send copies of your letters to

the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers,

Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy,
urging him to investigate the case of Mr. Aref and, more generally, the independence
of the judiciary in Djibouti.

Dato’ Param
Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Office of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
8-14 Av. de la Paix
CH-1211 Geneva 10,
Switzerland Fax:
+41 22 917 0092

If you
are interested in joining the Lawyer – to – Lawyer Network, and becoming directly
involved in our advocacy efforts, please contact the:

Lawyers Committee
comm@lchr.org .

audiences de la Cour Européenne des Droits de l’Homme :
avril 1999 Mercredi 21 avri1 1999 : Civet v. / c. France
Jeudi 22 avril 1999 . ÖZDEP v. Turkey / c. Turquie
Mardi 27 avril 1999 Danemark c. Turquie (mauvais traitements qu’aurait subis
un ressortissant danois d’origine kurde pendant sa détention en Turquie du
8 juillet au 16 août 1996).

arrêts de la Cour Européenne des Droits de l’Homme peuvent être consultés
dès le jour de leur parution sur l’Internet sur le site de la Cour :

Vous pouvez
aussi accéder directement au serveur de la Cour par le site internet de l’UNION