Education International
Education International

Djibouti: EI outraged at teacher union leaders’ arrests

published 23 March 2017 updated 3 April 2017

Education International has released a solidarity statement firmly urging Djibouti’s public authorities to immediately release imprisoned education union leaders, stop harassment measures and ensure respect for human and trade union rights, including social dialogue.

Education International (EI) has expressed its deep concerns following the arrests by Djibouti’s Security Services (SDS, from French acronym) of the Syndicat des Enseignants du Premier Degré(SEP) Deputy General Secretary, Omar Ali Ewado, and SEP General Secretary Ahmed-Khadar Nour. Education International addressed its concerns to the President of the Republic of Djibouti, H. E. Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, in a protest letter dated 21 March.

It urges the country’s public authorities to:

• Immediately and unconditionally release Omar Ali Ewado and Ahmed-Khadar Nour and guarantee their physical and psychological safety

• Immediately cease intimidation measures and remove all arbitrary sanctions against teachers and education personnel

• Guarantee by law and in practice the use of freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the right of peaceful assembly, and to create an enabling environment for this

• Comply with international standards ratified by Djibouti pertaining to trade union rights, citizens’ protection and respect for fundamental freedoms

• Establish conditions to ensure respectful and equitable dialogue with all actors of civil society, including teachers' organisations

Ongoing harassment

Education International condemns the latest developments in the ongoing harassment and repression of teachers and trade unionists seeking to enjoy their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association. This activity, along with a lack of social dialogue, constitutes a serious violation of fundamental human and trade union rights. These rights have been internationally acknowledged, including by Djibouti, which ratified the International Labour Organisation’s Conventions 87 and 98 in 1978.


Now, this latest harassment has included the arrests of SEP leaders. Ewado, President of the Human Rights League of Djibouti (Ligue djiboutienne des droits humains, or LDDH), was arrested at his home and jailed on 19 March, and there are reports that he has started a hunger strike.

Ewado had previously been targeted by the courts following the publication of a list of victims who disappeared in Djibouti following a security forces-led massacre on 21 December 2015. He was arrested on 29 December 2015, transferred to the central prison in Gabode two days later, and released from prison on 14 February following an appeals court decision that dismissed charges against him.

There are also fears that SEP General Secretary Nour has been arrested. He was summoned to the SDS premises on 20 March and has not been heard of since then. In addition, he could be reported for abandonment of post, a procedure which would have been initiated even before he was forced to leave his place of work to respond to the gathering of the SDS.

No dialogue

The SEP and the Syndicat des professeurs des collèges et lycées de Djibouti(SYNESED), the other EI national affiliate, deeply regret the lack of social dialogue preventing them from being involved in decisions and reforms initiated by education authorities and in discussions determining their members’ working conditions.

Education International will raise this case with the UN Human Rights Council, the International Labour Organisation, and UNESCO, and continue to closely monitor the teacher unions’ situation in Djibouti.

The full EI protest letter supporting Djibouti’s colleagues is available here(in FR).