1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation : In 2018 the overall human rights situation in the country did not change much. It remains marked by acts of harassmentagainst human rights activists that are sometimes difficult to independently verify. Primary targets are human rights activists operating outside the officially approved or tolerated human rights groups, journalists and some o utspoken government opponents. The opposition’s ability to operate is severely constrained, and journalists and activists critical of President Guelleh or the ruling coalition "Union pour la Majorité Présidentielle" (UMP) are reportedly regularly harassed or briefly arrested. Freedoms of assembly and association are restricted. However the government undertook some efforts by passing a law according additional rights to refugees and took some initiatives to make the Human Rights 89 Commission more operational and advanced further gender equality/woman rights. In view of the elections beginning 2018, the government put in place a National Commission for Communication, “Commission National de la Communication” (CNC). This commission ensured that the media attenti on (newspaper, TV, radio) was proportionally shared between the political parties participating in the elections. The elections passed peacefully and the new Law of 11 January 2018 stipulates that 25 percent of the seats must go to women. This threshold was met as 16 women won parliamentary seats, 14 ofwhom belong to the UMP. Effectively, the representation of women nearly doubled in the Parliament.
2. EU action key focus areas : EU's priority is to support human rights defenders(HRDs) and groups as well as institutional/NGO actors by providing them the means to carry out activities in defence and promotion of human rights; to work on the protection of vulnerable groups, with a particular focus on street children, migrants and refugees; and to improve the protection of women's and children's rights. EU regularly engages with the government, in particular with the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Women and Family Affairs as well as with the President of the National Assembly in order to nurture the dialogue in the field of
human rights and the development of civil society projects.
3. EU bilateral political engagement : The EU continued to engage in human rights and democracy discussions with the Republic of Djibouti, notably during the Art. 8 political dialogue session of March 2018. The relevant discussion was open and related to a range of issues, including freedom of expression and freedom of association. Human rights - related diplomatic outreaches took place throughout 2018. The Head of Delegation carried out several demarches with the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Interior regarding various incidents reported by some opposition leaders and HRDs.
4. EU financial engagement : The EU Delegation manages several projects with civil society organisations (CSOs) in Djibouti, in particular on women's rights, rural resilience and the rights of persons with disabilities. Given that the reinforcement of civil society is a priority for the EU in Djibouti, the EU started a process to establish a more structured dialogue with CSOs in the country. The newly approved bilateral program worth EUR 2 millionaims at consolidating democratic governance and an inclusive and equitable civic culture in Djibouti. In particular, it will address the improvement of the legal and institutional frameworks governing CSOs to facilitate their work as governance actors. It will also imply strengthening their voice and impact as well as the effective participation of CSOs in consultations on development policies and proposals such as justice, water and sanitation. The EU Delegation works on strengthening the capacities of local NGO's by providing regular training financed by technical assistance funds. The EU also continued implementation of two grant contracts awarded in 2017for the protection of women's and children's rights in the refugee communities both in refugee camps and in urban areas. Two additional contracts were implemented covering various aspects of CSO's capacity building activities. All the above - mentioned projects are financed under different thematic instruments, like the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR)and the budget line for non-state actors. In addition, the 11th EDF National Indicative Programme for Djibouti hasearmarked almost EUR 47 million for projects (approved for implementation as of 2019) related to resilience of rural populations, gender and decentralisation. The 2018 also marked the beginning of implementation of the EUTF funded bilateral project on migration (valued 90 at EUR 15 million) including – among others - elements on protection of street children, fighting malnutrition and supporting the host communities.
5. Multilateral context : Djibouti's human rights record was examined by the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group in May 2018. Issues related to international obligations and cooperation of Djibouti with international human rights mechanisms, civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights as well as rights of specific persons or groups have been discussed and recommendations made in these areas.