Due to its strategic location, Djibouti is a key ally to major international powers, which maintain military bases in the country while showing little regard for its human rights record. Djibouti is still governed by laws of exception introduced as security measures, and the state of emergency declared in 2015 remains in place. Although the authorities adopted these measures in the name of countering terrorism, they unreasonably restrict the exercise of freedom of association and peaceful assembly.
Free participation in public and political affairs is not guaranteed, as the current president Ismail Omar Guelleh has won each presidential election since 1999, all of which have been systematically boycotted by opposition groups. Members of opposition parties are regularly the target of arbitrary arrest and detention, in violation of the terms agreed in the 2014 reconciliation process. Some parties have been banned and their members prosecuted for having continued their activities.
Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are limited by both the state’s monopoly on national media and a systematic repression of online criticism. Alongside these factors, restrictive laws and the government’s harassment and detention of independent journalists have created a climate of self-censorship that limits media freedom in the country.