Reporters Without Borders has learned of the arrest by police yesterday morning of Mohamed Ibrahim Waiss, a reporter for the La Voix de Djibouti newspaper and website, while he was covering a women’s demonstration in the Buldhuqo neighbourhood of the working class Djibouti suburb of Balbala.
“We call for the immediate release of Mohamed Ibrahim Waiss, who was arrested while he was doing his job and should not be in prison,” the press freedom organization said.
“This arbitrary arrest is the latest in a series of intimidation attempts in recent weeks. It is part of a clear attempt to muzzle voices that may convey any information unfavourable to the government of President Ismail Omar Guelleh, which constantly censors independent news outlets in defiance of Djibouti’s national laws and international undertakings.”
According to information received by Reporters Without Borders, the journalist is held in very poor conditions at the police station in the 4th district of Balbala. His equipment and cell phone have been seized.
Mothers in Buldhuqo, a neighbourhood that was recently demolished by the government, were demonstrating to demand the government honour its promise to provide them with building plots in another neighbourhood.
The arrest is the latest of many directed against independent journalists and opposition activists.
On 7 December, another journalist from La Voix de Djibouti, Farah Abadid Hildid, who is a member of the Djibouti Human Rights League and the opposition MRD party, was arrested by police for no obvious reason.
Two more journalists from the same news organization, Moustapha Abdourahman Houssein and Sadam Ainan Darar, were picked up and beaten up by the police on 4 December while they were covering a police raid on stallholders in the Maka Moukarama market, which is operated by a relative of the president and his wife.
Waiss and five other members of the La Voix de Djibouti staff including Houssein and Hildid spent more than four months in Djibouti’s Gabode prison in 2011.
Djibouti is ranked 167th of 179 countries in the 2013 World Press Freedom Index
compiled by Reporters Without Borders.