One exile radio station, nothing else

What with judicial harassment, illegal searches, violation of privacy, attacks, arrests and exorbitant fines resulting in detention for non-payment, the repressive arsenal deployed against journalists in Djibouti means they live in fear. No privately-owned or independent media outlet operates within the country. The few Djibouti-based “media outlets” are used for propaganda purposes by President Ismaël Omar Guelleh’s government. The 1992 Freedom of Communication Law is itself an obstacle to free speech and media pluralism. It provides for jail terms for media offences and imposes age and nationality restrictions on those who can create a media outlet. La Voix de Djibouti, an exile media outlet based in Paris, is the only radio station offering independently reported news to Djiboutians in Djibouti, but its signal is often jammed and its website is blocked by the authorities. Journalists in Djibouti who work for this radio station usually do so clandestinely to avoid reprisals and attacks. Nonetheless, they were arrested six times in 2019 and 2020. They were also attacked, their homes were searched and their social media accounts were sometimes hacked in attempt to identify their sources. In an interview for a foreign media outlet, the president described its journalists as “sometimes barely literate fellows” working for an “opposition website” – lies designed to deflect attention from the complete absence of press freedom in his country. The authorities said they were unable to grant the radio station’s request for a licence to operate in Djibouti because the commission that is supposed to consider such requests had not yet been created, although its creation was envisaged nearly 30 years ago. The proportion of the population with an Internet connection has surged in recent years but the connection speed is one of the slowest in Africa. The authorities are deliberately reining in broadband Internet in order to limit access to social media, now one of the few areas where free speech and freely reported news are available.

in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index



176 in 2020

Global score


76.73 in 2020


  • 0
    journalists killed in 2021
  • 0
    citizens journalists killed in 2021
  • 0
    media assistants killed in 2021
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