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USA/Djibouti: Torture case filed at the ACHPR

last updated Mar 01, 2011

A case filed confidentially in 2009 at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) could become the first international case linking an African country directly to the CIA’s rendition program. Human rights groups hope that the ACHPR will thoroughly investigate the claims by Mohammed al-Asad who allegedly was tortured in secret prisons in Djibouti, Afghanistan and Eastern Europe.

African Commission on Human and People's Rights

Mohammed al-Asad said he was arrested in 2003 in Tanzania and brought to a clandestine prison in Djibouti where he claims to have been abused by the guards. According to al-Asad, after two weeks, he was taken on a plane and spent the next 16 months in CIA prisons in Afghanistan and other countries where he was allegedly further tortured. After being detained in Yemen for some time he was released without charge in 2006.

The U.S. and British human rights lawyers who filed the case are urging the ACHPR to demand an answer by the Djibouti government on its role in the CIA’s rendition program. So far, the Djibouti government refused to comment and the CIA denied allegations of abuse.

The ACHPR has jurisdiction over African countries which ratified the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. Djibouti is among the ratifying countries. All attempts to bring persons involved in the CIA’s rendition program before a U.S. court have failed due to the so-called “state secrets privilege”, which allows the rejection of lawsuits if sensitive national security information might be revealed during the trial.

Washington Post: African commission asked to take case challenging CIA rendition program

Djibouti country profile

United States country profile