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04DJIBOUTI1271 2004-10-03 06:45:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 001271 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/01/2014

Classified By: Pol/Econ Erinn C. Reed for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (U) Summary: Pol/Econ, USLO NCO, and Pol Asst visited
Djibouti's civil prison, Gabode, on September 23rd. Followed
by a tour of the facilities, Pol/Econ discussed the
conditions with the Director of the Prison, Mohamed Ismail.
The following is reaction to the conditions and a brief
overview of the conversation with Ismail. End Summary.

2. (C) The conditions at Gabode Prison were considerably
better than Embassy staff expected to see based on the
general impression from word on the street. That said, one
can imagine that conditions were spruced up a bit in the two
weeks between the Embassy's formal request to the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and our actual visit. The prison grounds are
all dirt and were fairly clean compared to some of the
streets throughout Djibouti City. Buildings that inmates
occupy have cement flooring, which was usually covered in
dirt or mud. All areas have ceiling fans to cool them,
except the infirmary which has the only air conditioner in
the prison, but it has been broken for several months. The
kitchen facilities are primitive and do not seem adequate for
feeding 300 to 500 persons. Animals that are slaughtered in
order to feed the prisoners wander freely around the prison
compound. Trash is burned in the open, as is customary for
most residents of Djibouti. Buildings are extremely
dilapidated. There are four new buildings constructed by the
Government of Djibouti that house male inmates doing shorter
sentences. One of the four has a problem with its electrical
wiring and therefore stands empty while the prison
administrators wait for someone who can fix it. The main
generator for the prison is broken, funds are not available
in the prison budget to fix it.

3. (C) The women's facility is completely separated from the
minors' and men's sections. During the visit there were 11
women in the general area and one in criminal confinement.
Ismail said that she had to be housed away from the other
women or she would likely injure or kill them. In the event
of a woman having a child in prison, mother and child are
kept together. The conditions in the women's facility are
described as luxurious compared to other prison facilities.
The women have no beds and sleep on blankets piled on the
cement floor. There is a courtyard, a general sleeping
quarters, a toilet and shower area immediately adjacent to
the sleeping quarters and then the criminal confinement area,
which has all of the above areas as well. The toilet
consists merely of two holes in the ground, where the
sanitation piping is located and a bucket of clean water to
wash with.

4. (C) The infirmary appeared as dirty as other areas of the
prison. Upon entering the infirmary compound, we saw as many
as eight sheep exit the infirmary compound when the door was
unlocked. There are beds in the infirmary, but the
mattresses and bedding are extremely old and not clean. The
shower and toilet facilities are well separated from the
sleeping quarters but are essentially the same as described
in the women's area. There were several people crowding
around the courtyard and offices of the doctor. We were told
that there a doctor is always on duty, as well as one nurse.
Medicine is provided by the Ministry of Health. Donations
from the Red Crescent were used in the past to supply the
infirmary but that is no longer the case. The one air
conditioner in the prison is in the supply room of the
infirmary. It has been broken for several months. Medicines
are stored at room temperature - which in Djibouti is roughly
the same as the outside air, ranging from 85 degrees
Fahrenheit in the winter months to 130 degrees Fahrenheit in
the summer months. When asked if the supply of medicine was
sufficient to treat the number of prisoners resident at
Gabode in case of an emergency, the doctor said no, but
conditioned that supplies were regularly replenished if they
ran out.

5. (C) The kitchen is roughly in the same state. Food is
brought in three times a day in order to prepare meals,
according to Ismail. The visit was around the time that the
mid-day meal was being prepared. The meat was being butchered
in unsanitary conditions. The general food preparation area
was as unhygenic as any other in the prison. Flies and
insects swarmed the meat as it was being cut. The prison
employs one cook who is aided by the prisoners. On a daily
basis the prison prepares 70 kilograms of food per day. The
annual food budget is 13 million Djiboutian Francs (roughly
730,000 USD). Ismail said if the prisoner population remains
at 350 the budget may stretch far enough when you factor out
those that are being fed by their family. He said frequently
there is a deficit by September. Many prisoners choose to
have family bring them food, some even share with the other
prisoners. Ismail said that many of the families of patients
in the infirmary fully supply the food for their kin. He
said the prison relies on a certain number to be fed by their
family so that the rations provided by the prison can go far
enough. Ismail commented that there is much strain placed on
the prison system by illegal foreigners. He continued that
there is the view in Djibouti that they are not Djiboutian,
why should it be necessary to feed and house them and not
send them home? But, he said, it is not right according to
human rights - we must take care of anyone that is arrested
in Djibouti. This places a great burden on the system.

6. (C) The prison seems to be capped at a budgetary and
physical capacity to care for 350 persons. The annual budget
does not adequately cover the expenses of the prison in terms
of food, maintenance and administrative costs. The physical
capacity is limited by buildings that aren't usable, but the
prisoners' residence quarters seem crowded despite that.
Ismail said that the prison depends on the twice annual
amnesties - at Independence Day and Ramadan - to reduce the
prisoner population. This year's independence day amnesty
released 200 prisoners. Ismail said those that are released
usually get arrested again soon after. The budget used to be
25 million DF annually but was cut to 13 million DF recently.
The budget does not include salaries of the 16 person
administrative staff, which is paid by the government, nor
for any repairs or maintenance. Currently, there are 144
prisoners waiting for judgment out of the 350 total. 14
persons are in on "criminal" charges, one of which is serving
a life sentence. According to Ismail, the law states that a
Djiboutian must be tried within four months of arrest for
minor infractions and foreigners within six months.
Prisoners arrested on more severe criminal charges must be
tried within two years of arrest. Ismail said the longest
anyone has stayed without judgment is eight years - he did
not specify the crime.

7. (C) The prison recently acquired two vehicles for daily
transportation needs, though Ismail stressed that the prison
needs its own ambulance. He commented that when a prisoner
got sick in the past it was necessary to call the hospital
and wait until the ambulance could get to them, sometimes
several hours later. With the two vehicles it now has,
prison officials can carry the prisoner to the hospital, but
they must compete with the traffic like any other car.

8. (C) Ismail pressed the notion that the most important
improvement needed for the prison was a separate medical
treatment facility at the entrance of the prison to screen
prisoners prior to placement with the rest of the prison
population. He said that it is necessary to examine and
diagnose prisoners for diseases like tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS
and pneumonia to avoid wide spread contagion. Ismail was
extremely concerned that the priorities were not in the right
place. He commented "it is much better to have run down
buildings with healthy people inside than brand new
facilities with people spreading sickness."