UPDATE: Researching the Legal System of the Republic of Djibouti
By Mustafe Mohamed H. Dahir
Mustafe Mohamed H. Dahir holds a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree in International Trade and Investment Law in Africa from University of Pretoria, South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree from the University of Hargeisa. In addition, he holds a postgraduate Diploma of International Legislative Drafting from International Law Institute/African Centre for Legal Excellency. His LL.M. dissertation examined the non-recognition of Somaliland and its legal implication for foreign investment. Mr. Dahir has served as a Chief Legal Advisor of the Somaliland House of Representatives (Parliament] and clerk for the past 15 years. He also serves as a Corporate Legal Consultant for both the Ministry of Trade and the Ministry of Transport. Mr. Dahir is currently a founder and managing director of a private law firm namely Sahan-Samo Advocates and Legal Consultants. In addition to that, he has been a frequent lecturer on commercial and corporate laws, at the University of Hargeisa, Somaliland. He has published and edited several books and papers, including “Somaliland Legislative Drafting, Parliamentary Debating and Oversight Handbooks.” His research interests are in international trade and investment law; corporate laws; alternative dispute resolution (ADR); law and justice reform programs; and information, telecommunications, and IT law.
Published May/June 2022
Table of Contents
- 1. Geo-Political History of Djibouti
- 2. Legal System
- 3. Constitutional Framework
- 4. Branches of Government
- 5. Other Key Institutions
- 6. Publication of Laws & Regulations
- 7. Official Gazette
- 8. International and Other Sources
1. Geo-Political History of Djibouti
Republic of Djibouti is located at a strategic place in the Horn of Africa, between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, and shares a border with Ethiopia in the west, Eritrea in the northwest, and Somaliland in the south. Djibouti shares a sea border with Eritrea, Somaliland, and Yemen. After the partition of Africa in 1884, Djibouti was imperialized by the French who made bilateral agreements with sultans of both the Somali and Afar communities who lived in the area, named in 1887 as French Somaliland. In 1894, the French government settled in Obock—on the western coast of French Somaliland—and later moved to Djibouti, which became the country’s capital and home of its administration. The southern border of French Somaliland with Ethiopia was drawn in 1897. French rule in Djibouti lasted until 27 June 1977.
On 28 October 1958, the first general referendum was performed, in which inhabitants were asked if they want to remain a French territory or become an independent country. The result of this referendum showed that most inhabitants chose to remain under French rule. On 19 March 1967, another referendum took place after the French rule faced great pressure from independence activists, and the result was again to remain a French territory. As a result, the name of the colony was changed to the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas.
in 1976, a UN resolution on the question of French Somaliland ordered the French government to grant the territory its independence. A referendum was held on 8 May 1977, in which 98.8% of the population voted to become an independent territory. Djibouti held its inaugural Independence Day on 27 June 1977 with the country’s first Prime Minister, H.E. Ahmed Dini Ahmed. H.E. Hassan Guleed Abitidoon became the first president of Djibouti Republic and remained in power until 1999.
While in power, Hassan Guleed Abtidoon established a one-party system centered around his own party, the People’s Rally for Progress (RPP). In 1991, a civil war broke out between the government and armed militias of the Afar (Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD)). in 1994, a peace treaty was signed by FRUD and the Djibouti government, according to which FRUD became part of the government. A general election was held in 1999, in which Hassan Guleed was reelected. Within the same year he resigned on medical grounds and was replaced by the incumbent president H.E. Ismail Omar Guelleh, who was re-elected in 2005, 2011, 2016, and 2021.
Djibouti has a seaport, which is important for the commercial transactions in the Horn of Africa. There are also military bases owned by foreign military forces such as France, Germany, NATO, and the US. The Republic of Djibouti consists of five administrative districts, including the capital city of Djibouti, Ali-sabieh, Dikhil, Todjourah, and Obock. Djibouti is located in the tropical zone of Africa. The new government policy on decentralization has created regional councils within the district. The members of these councils are selected from among the residents of the districts and have a broad discretion in public management.
1.1. Foreign Relations
Given its strategic location, bridging continents and large trade routes, much of Djibouti’s foreign policy is based on dual goals of maintaining sovereignty and promoting development within its borders. Given its comparative stability in an often turbulent neighborhood, the country plays a major role in helping to reduce violance and establish stability in the area. As such, Djibouti connects many global economies and powers.
Military Bases: The country’s strategic location by the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, which separates the Gulf of Aden from the Red Sea and controls approaches to the Suez Canal, made it the spot-of-choice for many foreign military bases, including a French airbase, an Italian Support Base, a Japanese defense base, a Chinese naval base, and a United States naval base. Djibouti is the only country to host bases for both China and the United States.
Bilateral Affairs: Djibouti maintains close ties with the governments of Somalia, Ethiopia, France, and the United States. It has also established a trade relationship with Malaysia for commercial goods entering East Africa. Its Arab League membership allows Saudi Arabia, another major trading partner, to extend financial and diplomatic support. In July 1998, the country signed a letter of understanding with Iran to consolidate their political, economic, trade, and industrial ties.
International Organizations: Djibouti is a member of the League of Arab States (LAS) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as well as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the International Organization of Francophone (Organization international de la Francophonie, or OIF). Djibouti is also a member of the East African Standby Brigade Coordination Mechanism (EASBRICOM), which in 2012 was commanded by a Djiboutian general. The IGAD is the successor organization to the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD), created in 1986 by six drought stricken East African countries to coordinate development in the Horn of Africa. IGAD headquarters are in Djibouti.
The Republic of Djibouti is also a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations Organization and its agencies, the World Bank Group (WBG), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It has signed the Cotonou Agreement between the European Union and the ACP countries and belongs to the African Union (formerly the Organization of African Unity) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
Djibouti is one of the smallest countries in Africa, with an area of 23,200 square kilometers and a population estimated at about 990,000. The size of Djibouti’s economy limits its ability to diversify production and increases its reliance on foreign markets, making it more vulnerable to market downturns and hampering its access to external capital. Marking a bridge between Africa and the Middle East and adjacent to some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes (between Asia and Europe), the country’s strength lies in its strategic location. Its economy is driven by a state-of-the-art port complex, which stands among the most sophisticated in the world. Within a partnership framework with the Emirate of Dubai, the government of Djibouti has developed, over the last decade, an outstanding port and logistics hub with few precedents in other African countries.
Since 1985, the Port of Djibouti has hosted a container terminal equipped with gantry cranes and a dozen berths for bulk and conventional cargo. During the 2000s, it progressively expanded its facilities with a new oil terminal at Doraleh (2006), a new container terminal at Doraleh (end of 2008), a bulk terminal in the old port (end of 2006), the Djibouti Free Zone (DFZ) in 2004, the Djibouti Dry Port (DDP), and the logistics zone known as PK-12 zone. Besides the quality of its infrastructures, the port of Djibouti’s strategic geographic position on the straits of Bab-el-mandeb allows it a significant share of international maritime transit flow along the East African coast. A second strategic advantage of the port lies in it being the main sea-access route for Ethiopia and its market of 90 million inhabitants.
Although bordering Ethiopia with more extensive coastlines and terrestrial borders, Eritrea and Somalia/Somaliland are not in a position to “seriously” compete with the Port of Djibouti due to the current geopolitical situation in both countries. Due to the extent of Ethiopia’s terrestrial borders with its neighbouring countries (Somaliland, Eritrea, Sudan, and Kenya), the ports of Berbera, Assab, Massawa, Port Soudan, and Mombasa are Djibouti’s natural competitors for Ethiopian transit traffic. This potential competition, however, remains marginal due to a currently unfavourable geopolitical context and/or the inferior infrastructure quality of these ports. The conditions of competition for transit traffic could nevertheless evolve as it is in Ethiopia’s interest to diversify its sea-access routes so as not to depend on a single port that could abuse of its dominant position by charging uncompetitive tariffs.
Accordingly, the confirmed research shows that the country of Djibouti has some other natural assets that could be used for tourism, such as untapped marine resources that could support more artisanal fishing, and an infrastructure of undersea telecommunications cables, from which it could develop new digital and service industries. Renewable energy could be another source of growth, as Djibouti has geothermal, solar, and wind potential. Djibouti’s economy weathered the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic well, averting a contraction. Output expanded by 0.5% in 2020, driven by buoyant free zone re-exports and exports of transportation, logistics, and telecommunication services to and from Ethiopia in the latter half of the year. Yet, extreme poverty increased slightly to 14.7% in 2020. Djibouti’s growth prospects, while favorable, depend critically on Ethiopia’s political and economic conditions.
2. Legal System
Djibouti's legal and judicial systems are largely inspired by French legislation. Laws are codified in which the system of the country is based on the coexistence of Islamic law (Sharia), customary law, and civil law inherited the French Napoleon Code.
Sharia Law: Given that Islam is constitutionally recognised as “the religion of the people and of the State,” it is no surprise that the preamble of the Constitution names Sharia as “the sole source of law.” References in other pieces of legislation further buttress this primacy of Sharia. For example, the swearing-in oath of the President of the Supreme Court, the top official of the judicial power, enjoins him, in the exercise of his functions, to respect “Sharia, the Constitution and laws of the country.”
Customary Law: Customary and traditional rules are applicable in communities where they are recognized, provided that they are not in conflict with the state law. Customary and traditional rules promoting inequality between citizens are prohibited in the country, and those governing matrimonial regimes and inheritance require the consent of the parties concerned.
Traditional law often applied in cases involving conflict resolution and victim compensation. Traditional law stipulates that a price be paid to the victim’s family for crimes such as murder and rape. Most parties preferred traditional court rulings for sensitive issues such as rape, where a peaceful consensus among those involved was valued over the individual rights of the victim, who often received pressure from family to abide by traditional court rulings.
Sources of Law: It is to be noted here that the Sharia, the Constitution, legislations (organic laws, ordinary laws, ordinances, and decrees) and treaties are the sources of Djiboutian laws.
3. Constitutional Framework
The current Constitution of Djibouti was adopted by referendum on 9 September 1992. The constitution guaranteed democratic sovereign republic and the equality of citizens before the law. It opens with an inspirational preamble that includes two of the fundamental human rights and freedoms (the Charter), which closely mirror Djiboutian adhesion to the ideas and principles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the Organization of the African Unity.
In terms of the 1992 Constitution, Djibouti is a republic founded on the principles of democracy, the rule of law, and justice. The separation of powers is entrenched in the Constitution, which established an executive made up of a President elected directly by a popular vote of the people for a renewable six-year term, and a government led by a Prime Minister appointed by the President. The legislative power is vested in a unicameral assembly consisting of sixthly five members elected by direct universal suffrage. Judicial power is exercised by the Supreme Court and other courts. The judiciary is independent from the executive and the legislative branches of the government.
Subsequent constitutional amendments have maintained that initial framework. It was amended by the Constitutional Law No. 215/AN/08/5th of September 4, 2007; the amendment abolished the Chamber of Accounts of the Supreme Court which was replaced by the “Court of Auditors.” After some time, the constitution was reviewed by the Constitutional Act No. 92/AN/10/6th of April 2010 asserted the Djiboutian greater freedom and civic liberties that political parties and/or groups of political parties contribute to the exercise of suffrage and exercise their activities freely in compliance with the Constitution, the principles of national sovereignty and democracy. These amendments passed by the National Assembly in 2010 reduced presidential terms from six years to five and specified that candidates must be between the ages of 40 and 75. The 2010 constitutional changes provided for the formation of a bicameral parliament comprising the existing National Assembly and a newly created Senate, though steps to establish one have yet to be taken.
4. Branches of Government
4.1. Executive Power
The executive power is led by the president of the Republic who is the Head of State, Head of Government and Commander in Chief, and is elected by the people on the basis of universal suffrage by secret ballot for up to six-year term. The President is assisted in the performance of his duties by a government whose full members are the Prime Minister and ministers.
As enshrined by the Constitution of Djibouti, the government is under the political authority of the President. The President of the republic appoints a Prime Minister to assist him in carrying out his responsibilities. Later, he appoints and defines their duties Ministers and other officials of the government after he receives a proposal from the Prime Minister. All members of the cabinet are appointed in a presidential decree issued by the President, the actual head of government, on the proposal of the Prime Minister.
The prime minister is responsible of coordinating the actions of the government. Ministers are in charge of their own ministries, which are responsible for administering by orders or circulars; delegate ministers, under the authority of a minister, are responsible for a ministerial portfolio depending on said minister; Secretaries of State, also under the authority of a minister, are considered in the order of protocol. Spokesman of Government, often related to a ministerial allocation, is a function corresponding to the expression of the government's position.
The current decree on departmental awards is Decree No. 2013-058/PRE of 14 April 2013, which organizes a government of 23 members (one Prime Minister, fifteen cabinet ministers, including the spokesman, two deputy ministers and three Secretaries of State).
4.1.1. Prerogative of the President of the Republic
The President of the Republic embodies national unity and guarantees the continuity of the State and serves as a guarantor of national security, national independence, territorial integrity, and respect for the Constitution, treaties, and international agreements. He appoints Djiboutian diplomatic representatives and receives foreign ambassadors accredited in the country. The President of the Republic determines and conducts the policy of the nation and has regulatory power which he signs all the decrees deliberated by the Council of Ministers. He can take the initiative of bills to be submitted to the national assembly and the constitutional review after consulting with the Speaker of the National Assembly and the President of the Constitutional Council any bills to a referendum. He supervises the implementation of court decisions. He negotiates and approves international treaties and conventions which are subject to ratification by the National Assembly.
4.1.2. Policy Formulation and Implementation
Policies are formulated and implemented by means of laws, decrees, orders, or decisions. Laws are proposed by the National Assembly, the President of the Republic, or the government. Each ministry is in principle responsible for formulating policies within its competence and for preparing the relevant draft legislation. This is done in consultation with other ministries that may be concerned by the measures under consideration. All draft laws or decrees are first discussed by the government (in the Council of Ministers) and then put before the National Assembly.
Laws are enacted by the President of the Republic within 15 days of the Government's receipt of the final texts adopted by Parliament. Before enacting them, however, the President may request Parliament to give the draft law in question a second reading. If Parliaments adopts the draft law after a second reading, it must then be enacted. The Prime Minister and ministers countersign laws in their respective spheres of activity. Laws enter into effect as of their publication in the Official Journal. The President of the Republic or Parliament may bring the matter before the Constitutional Council if it is considered that a law is contrary to the Constitution. Article 80 of the Constitution allows any plaintiff to claim that a law is unconstitutional as an exceptional measure when a case is being heard by a court.
4.2. Legislative Power: Organization of the National Assembly
Per Article 45 of the Constitution, legislative power belongs to the unicameral National Assembly, or Assemblee Nationale, whose members are called Députés. The assembly was formerly known as the Chamber of Deputies and consists of 65 seats: 52 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 13 directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote. Members serve five-year terms (note: in 2012, the electoral law was modified to include proportional representation for 13 seats).
The Organic Law no.16/AN/12/6ème L of December 6, 2012, relative to the Electoral Code, set the following conditions for election to the National Assembly: one must be over 23 years of age, be a Djiboutian by birth or by naturalization for ten years and having resided in Djibouti since the date of naturalization, and be presented by a regularly constituted political party. Those who are ineligible to contest the Assembly are the President of the Republic, National Commissioners, District Chiefs and Deputy District Chiefs, sub-district (arrondissement) chiefs in the district of Djibouti, government and ministry secretaries general, magistrates, state supervisors, labour inspectors and school supervisors, members of the armed forces of the national security force, police commissioners, and inspectors.
However, like in other civil law countries, a residual legislative power is left in the hands of the Executive. Articles 56 and 57 of the Constitution exhaustively list the subject areas that constitute the exclusively legislative domain of National Assembly. As per Article 59 of the Constitution, all matters not listed in Articles 56 and 57 fall under the regulatory power (pouvoir réglementaire) of the Executive which exercises it through decrees. This regulatory power belongs to the President of the Republic who may delegate part or the totality of it to the Prime Minister.
As another common feature of civil law systems, the government may in certain circumstances “legislate” on subject areas within the exclusive legislative competence of the Assembly by way of ordinances. This is regulated by Article 60 of the Constitution, which states that “with the agreement of the President of the Republic, the government, to execute its program, may ask the Parliament for the authorization for a limited period of time to pass ordinances for measures which are normally in the domain of the law.” These ordinances must be adopted by the Council of Ministers and signed by the President of the Republic. They enter into force immediately after their publication and must subsequently be tabled before the Parliament, within the timeframe stated in the enabling law, for purposes of ratification. The president has the power to notify the constitutional council when he considers that a law is contrary to the current constitution.
Equally worthy of notice is the fact that there exists a special category of laws known as organic laws. These typically serve to define the legal framework of key institutions and processes mentioned in the Constitution. In total, the Constitution prescribes for the enactment of nine organic laws. The adoption or amendment of organic laws is subject to relatively stricter conditions stated in Article 67 of the Constitution; one of which is that their constitutionality must first be checked and certified by the Constitutional Council before they can be promulgated.
4.3. Constitutional Council
The Constitutional Council is an important body that oversees the proper functioning of institutions. It is regulated by Articles 75-82 of the Constitution of 15 September 1992 and the Organic Law No 4/AN/93 of 7 April 1993 on the organization and functioning of the Constitutional Council. The Constitutional Council ensures compliance with constitutional principles and controls the constitutionality of laws. It guarantees the fundamental rights of the individual and public freedoms. It is the regulating body of the functioning of institutions and the activity of the authorities. The Council is composed of six members: two appointed by the President of the Republic, two by the President of the National Assembly, and two by the Supreme Council of Magistracy. The President of the Constitutional Council is appointed by the President of Djibouti from among its members. Former Presidents of the Republic are ex officio members of the Constitutional Council. Members of the Constitutional Council shall enjoy immunity granted to members of the National Assembly. Members of the Constitutional Council must be at least 35 years old and are selected primarily from among jurists of experience. The mandate of members of the Constitutional Council is eight years non-renewable.
The Constitutional Council shall ensure the regularity of all elections and referendums and proclaim the results. It shall examine complaints and rule on them. The Constitutional Council is seized in case of dispute on the validity of an election by any candidate and political party. For the same purpose, the laws can be referred to the Constitutional Council before their promulgation by the President of the Republic, the President of the National Assembly or ten deputies. Referral to the Constitutional Council by the President of the Republic must within six days of the delivery made to him definitively to adopt law.
The decisions of the Constitutional Council are coated with the authority of res judicata. They are not subject to appeal. They are binding on public authorities at all administrative and judicial authorities and all natural or legal persons.
4.4. Superior Council of Magistracy
The organization and functioning of the Superior Council of Magistracy are governed by the Organic Law No. 3/AN/3rd L 93 of 7 April 1993 as amended by Act No. 10/AN/01 the 4th of February 8, 2001, and Decree No. 99-0171 of 16 September 1999 concerning the functioning of the Higher Judicial Council terms.
The Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM), under the Organic Law of 7 April 1993, watches over the management of magistrates' career and gives its opinion on any question concerning the independence of the judiciary. It shall act as the disciplinary council for judges as enshrined under Article 73 of the Constitution. The Council is composed of four judges elected by their peers, three figures (neither parliamentary nor judges) appointed by the President of the Republic, and three appointed by the President or Speaker of the National Assembly. The members of the CSM are appointed by decree of President of the Republic for a period of four years.
The status of the Judiciary is defined by an organic law of 18 February 2001. It has many similarities in terms of rank, duty, discipline, and statutory position with the status of the judiciary in France. Judges (headquarters and parquet) are appointed by decree of the President of the Republic after consultation with the CSM. Once appointed, they follow a one-year internship in court. Promotion occurs by decree of the President of the Republic on the proposal of the Minister of Justice and after consulting the CSM.
4.5. Judicial Organization
As mentioned above, The judicial system includes a single judicial order with a higher tribunal. However, the judicial structure coexists with justice and customary law based on Islamic sharia namely charienne justice. Customary justice treats simple disputes in civil matters (neighborhood disputes or rents). The customary courts are presided over by civilian administrators and are established in the administrative centers of the districts and in the districts of the capital. The influence of that justice tends to decrease and only the customary court of the city of Djibouti works. There is also an informal customary justice rendered by the akals (tribal elders) in neighborhoods.
Charienne justice applies the Islamic law is made by the "wheelbarrows" (wise). They are divided into districts and administrative centers in the districts of the capital. The Grand Qadi of Djibouti is, moreover, an appellate judge. Charienne justice had exclusive jurisdiction to people of the Muslim faith, in matters of inheritance, marriage celebration, divorce, and alimony and child custody; however, the Act of June 30, 2003 in family matters replaced the Sharia courts with a State Court.
Jurisdiction for all disputes is divided into a Court of First Instance, a Court of Appeal and Supreme Court:
- The trial court's common law judge has a jurisdiction over all the territory. It consists of specialized chambers, which decide a single judge.
- The Court of Appeal, appellate court, with appeals lodged against the judgments of the CFI. It is organized into specialized divisions, with room charges, a criminal court, and a council of administrative litigation.
- The Supreme Court is the Court of Cassation, responsible for ensuring compliance with the law. Its chairman is appointed by the President of the Republic.
5. Other Key Institutions
5.1. The Ombudsman
The Mediator of the Republic is a newly established institution which created by law No. 51 of 21 August 1999. The ombudsman is an independent person who “receives complaints from public and representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration or a violation of rights.” The Ombudsman does not replace the courts. Its services are organized by Decree No. 2000-149/PRE of 11 June 2000. The Ombudsman has a general secretariat, a management service documentation, and archives, three instruction departments (General Administration, Social and Culture, Economy and Finance) and regional delegates in the four districts of the country (Ali-sabieh, Obock, Tadjourah, and Dikhil). The Ombudsman enjoys financial autonomy and allocates to it the funds required to fulfill its mission whose management arrangements are determined by Decree No. 2000-0150 / PRE of 11 June 2000. The Ombudsman is the officer who is also mandated to oversight the Chamber of Accounts.
5.2. National Communications Commission
The National Communications Commission is an independent authority established by law No. 2/AN/2nd L 92 of 15 September 1992 on freedom of communication. Freedom of communication is guaranteed by the Constitution and is defined by section 3 of the Act referred to above: “Freedom of communication is the right of everyone to create and use freely the media of his choice to speak his mind communicating it to others, or to access the expression of the thought of others.”
The National Communication Commission mission is the development and implementation of government policy in the field of information and to organize and participate in all national, regional, and international encounters dealing with issues of communication. It is also responsible for ensuring compliance with the pluralism of information.
5.3. Law of 1980: Establishing the PAID and Defining Its Statutes
The Autonomous Port of Djibouti (PAID) is a state-owned enterprise with a legal personality and financial autonomy. It is governed by Law n°148/AN/80 of November 5, 1980, instituting the PAID and defining its statutes. Placed under the authority of the Presidency of the Republic, the PAID’s mission is to ensure the management, exploitation, and development of the port of Djibouti. It is vested under the statutes with the power to enforce law and order within the port, and more specially to ensure the safety of port facilities and maritime traffic. In terms of property rights, the PAID has the same rights and obligations as the State who freely granted it the administration of and rights to use the state-owned seafront within the limits of the port district as defined by decree.
PAID services notably include the Harbour Master’s Office, which has the power to act as Port Police and Port Authority. The Law of 1980 provisions for law enforcement and security services within the port district to be ensured by the maritime police (Prévôté maritime) under the responsibility of the Port Director. Port equipment can either be installed and operated by the PAID, be privately operated under public equipment concessions or be authorized private equipment under public service obligations.
According to the Law of 1980, the PAID administration is ensured by a Council of Administration assisted by a Director, with the Minister in charge of port affairs acting as Chairman of the Council. As decreed by the Law of 1980, the council is made up of around 12 government representatives (from different ministries and institutions) and an equivalent number of private operator representatives (shipping companies, freight forwarders, stevedores, Chamber of Commerce, etc.). On the basis of the powers and prerogatives conferred by the Law of 1980, the PAID is the Djibouti Port Authority and should also have the power to act as Port Regulator. However, no existing legal text has formally designated the Port Regulator or specifically defined its missions.
5.4. The Ports and Free Zones Authority
In June 2002, Decree n°2002-0098/PRE instituted the Djibouti Free Zones Authority as a legal entity with financial autonomy and delegated management functions to Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) owned by the Dubai Ports Group.
In May 2003, Decree n°2003-0093/PRE defined the tasks assigned to the Djibouti Free Zones Authority Council of Administration and nominated its five members for a three-year mandate, placing them under the direct authority of the Presidency of the Republic, with total autonomy in relation to all the concerned ministries. In October 2003, Decree n°2003-0207/PRE transformed the Djibouti Free Zones Authority (l’Autorité de la Zone Franche de Djibouti) entity into the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority (l’Autorité des Ports et des Zones Franches de Djibouti).
The Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority (DPFZA) is the regulator of Djibouti ports, free-zones, Special Economic Zones, and related transport professions. DPFZA, through its subsidiary GHIH (Great Horn Investment Holding), contributes and leads several other major infrastructure projects in the country, such as planning the construction and investment of new airports, the Djibouti International free trade zone, power plants, etc. These projects intended to strengthen Djibouti’s role as a logistics and infrastructure hub and to unleash the economic potential of Africa.
5.5. Law Governing Sea Transport
In July 2000, the Government of Djibouti promulgated Law n°83/AN/00/4th L, defining the regulations governing sea transport auxiliaries. This law defines a sea transport auxiliary as any physical or moral person providing services of a commercial nature on behalf of, or for the benefit of a vessel or goods loaded or unloaded from a vessel. It stipulates that the exercise of said professions be subject to authorization under the conditions specified by the decree.
In July 2001, the Government of Djibouti promulgated Decree n°2001-0128/PR/MET defining the licensing regulations and operating conditions relative to stevedores and handling operators. Prior to setting up a business, the operator must apply for a stevedoring license issued by the Ministry on approval by the sea transport auxiliaries licensing commission.
In addition, Djibouti is partitioned into six administrative regions, with Djibouti city representing one of the official regions consists of (Ali Sabieh, Arta, Dikhil, Djibouti, Obock and Tadjourah).
6. Publication of Laws & Regulations
Djibouti's legislation embodies the principle of the primacy of international legal instruments (ratified and published) over internal legislation. Consequently, international treaties or agreements properly ratified and published take precedence as of their publication in the Official Journal. According to the precedence of rules, the Constitution is followed, in descending order, by basic laws, ordinary laws, decrees, and orders.
6.1. Main Legal Reference Books
The list bellow Contains some of the main legal reference material in Djibouti
- The Constitution of 15 September 1992 with amendment in 2010
- The Ordinance No. 80-097/PR of 30 July 1980 regulating the free zone
- Law No. 88/AN/84 1st L of 13 February 1984 establishing the Investment Code
- Law No. 108/AN/00 of 29 October 2000 relating to the reform of the General Tax Code
- Law No. 154/AN/02 4th L of 31 January 2002 codifying the OPS functioning and the general system of retirement for salaried workers
- Law No. 140/AN/97 of 23 September 1997 amending the 1952 Labor Code
- Law No. 79/AN/84 1st L of 13 February 1984 Djibouti establishing the International Arbitration Code
- Law No. 65/AN/94 3rd L of 7 December 1994 establishing the industrial free zone regime
- Decree No. 2001-0053/PRE of 4 March 2001 appointing the Prime Minister
- Decree No. 2001-137/PRE of 4 July 2001 appointing the members of the Government
- Decree No. 2001-0152/PR/MET of 11 June 2001 on the extension of the Djibouti Port Free Zone
- Decree No. 2003-0093/PRE establishing the board of directors of the Djibouti Free Zone Authority
- Decree No. 2002-0098/PRE establishing the Djibouti Free Zone Authority
- Decree No. 2003-0201/PRE amending Decree No. 2003-0093/PRE which establishes the board of directors of the Djibouti Free Zone Authority
- Decree No. 2003-0207/PRE amending certain provisions of Decree No. 2002-0098/PRE
- Decree No. 2003-0202/PRE regulating economic activities within the Djibouti Free Zones.
7. Official Gazette
- Journal Officiel de la République de Djibouti (Google result page listing few sources from this journal)
- Site Officiel de la République de Djibouti at African LII
- République de Djibouti (official government site)
- Journal Officiel de la Republique de Djibouti (Government Printing Bureau)
- Djibouti Ports and Free zone Authority (Official Website)
8. International and Other Sources
- WTO Trade Policy Review-Djibouti 2014
- CIA Factbook – Djibouti
- RefWorld – Djibouti (country information, legal information, policy documents, and reference documents)
- UN General Assembly, Question of French Somaliland, 1 December 1976, A/RES/31/59, available.
- Afdb Djibouti Economic Outlook
- World Bank Database
- Infoplease – Djibouti
- Global Edge – Djibouti
- Department of State: Djibouti
- Code de Commerce de la Republique de Djibouti
- ADDS – Agence Djiboutienne de Développement Social (DDS- Djibouti Social Development Agency)
- Nations Encyclopedia – Djibouti (in English)
- Constitution Djiboutienne du 15 septembre 1992 (updated 2015)
- Kadir, Histoire de Djibouti (History of Djibouti) (2013)
- Barnaamij Daawasho ah Taariikhda Xornimada Djibouti, A Documentary Film of Djibouti Independence, (produced by Horn Cable TV – HCTV).
- Tesfaye B.Takele & Tassew D. Tolcha Optimal Transit Corridors for Ethiopia Department of Logistics and Supply Chain Management, College of Business and Economics, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- African Legal Information Institute
- Africa Economic Zones Organization (AEZO)
Some International organizations have attempted to compile Djibouti material online including the Human Rights Watch, International Labour Organizations (ILO), WTO and COMESA (The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa). The information posted those organizations on their websites are not limited to legal information.
 UN RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED ON THE REPORTS OF THE FOURTH COMMITTEE Calls upon the Government of France to implement scrupulously and equitably, under democratic conditions, the programme for the independence of so-called French Somaliland (Djibouti), as outlined by the representative of France in his statement before the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly, within the indicated time frame, namely, the summer of 1977; and Endorses all resolutions adopted by the Organization of African Unity on the question of so-called French Somaliland (Djibouti), in particular resolutions CM/Res.431/Rev.1 (XXV) and CM/Res.480 ( XXVII), as well as the declaration adopted by the Organization of African Unity Co-coordinating Committee for the Liberation of Africa, as approved by the Council of Ministers at its twenty-seventh ordinary session and the Assembly of Heads of State and Government at its thirteenth ordinary session, and welcomes the solemn declarations by the leaders of the delegations of Ethiopia and Somalia before the Council of Ministers of the Organization of African Unity and before the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly that their Governments would recognize, respect and honour the independence and sovereignty of so-called French Somaliland (Djibouti) and its territorial integrity after its accession to independence.
 Bab-el-Mandeb, southern entry point to the Red Sea.
 Article 34 of the Constitution.
 The President is obliged to enact the law on penalty of proceedings for high treason.
 Any provision deemed unconstitutional on the basis of this Article ceases to be applicable.
 Charienne is a combined system of both modern and sharia Islamic law called La Charienne Justice.
 Article 37 of the Constitution.