Education International
Education International

Djibouti: Education International calls for release of teacher unionist and human rights defender

published 27 January 2016 updated 28 January 2016

The sentencing of Omar Ali Ewado, the Deputy General Secretary of the Union of Primary School Teachers, to three months in prison follows relentless government harassment since December of last year.

Mr. Ewado, who is also the President of the Human Rights League of Djibouti (Ligue djiboutienne des droits humains, or LDDH), has been targeted by the courts since a list of victims who disappeared following the security forces-led massacre on 21 December, 2015 was published.

The Syndicat des Enseignants du Premier Degré (SEP) Deputy General Secretary was arrested on the 29, December, and was transferred to the central prison in Gabode two days later.

In a letter to Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, Education International (EI) General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen stated that, “It is unacceptable that Mr. Ewado be punished for his legitimate activities as a human rights defender.”

In addition to concerns over Mr. Ewado’s health and safety due to poor prison conditions, EI has been informed that Emanuel Daoud, Mr. Ewado's French lawyer, was detained by the authorities at Djibouti’s  airport, preventing him from being able to defend his client, which is a clear violation of international standards on the right to defence.

Education International is urging the government of Djibouti to:

- Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Ewado and of all human rights defenders;

- Guarantee a fair appeal trial for Mr. Ewado, as well as his right to a full defence, by authorising the presence of Mr. Emanuel Daoud or any other lawyer of Mr. Ewado's choosing;

- Put an end to all forms of harassment against Mr. Ewado and all human rights defenders in Djibouti;

- Comply with the international standards ratified by Djibouti on human rights, the protection of citizens and the observance of fundamental freedoms;

- Establish the conditions guaranteeing a fair and respectful dialogue with all civil society stakeholders, including teachers' organisations and human rights defence organisations.

In response to Mr. Ewado’s imprisonment and violations of his human rights, EI’s letter states that it “has referred the matter to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the International Labour Organisation and UNESCO.”

Appeal launched on LabourStart

Education International calls on its affiliates to sign the LabourStart appeal in support of Omar Ali Ewado.