Reporters Without Borders called on the Djibouti government today to free
Daher Ahmed Farah, editor of the newspaper Le Renouveau and leader of the
opposition Mouvement pour le renouveau démocratique (MRD - Movement for
Democratic Renewal), who has been in prison since 20 April.
"As far as we know, he was simply exercising his right to inform the
public, a right guaranteed under several international treaties signed by
Djibouti," said the organisation’s secretary-general, Robert Ménard in a
letter to state prosecutor Djama Souleimane Ali. "Nothing justifies his
prolonged detention," he said, noting that the United Nations condemned the
jailing of people for peacefully expressing their opinions.
Ménard also deplored the new seizure of the paper today at newsstands and
from other vendors, calling it "serious harassment."
A member of the group Lawyers Without Borders has agreed to defend Farah
and will go to Djibouti in the next few days. Local lawyers will not touch
the case and the authorities have refused to release him on bail.
When Farah was arrested, he was placed in solitary confinement at Gabode
prison and only his mother was allowed to visit him. He was not officially
charged with any crime but some said the deputy head of the army, Gen.
Zakaria Cheik Ibrahim, had filed a complaint against the paper after it
criticised him on 17 April for lacking "neutrality" and saying the army
"must not take sides."
A few days later, special police went to Farah’s home and to MRD
headquarters without search warrants and seized seven typewriters, a photo
enlarger, photocopier ink and all the newspaper’s archives.
Farah has been jailed several times in recent years. He was mostly charged
with violating the press law and given prison sentences or fined. On 15
March this year, he was detained for a day and fined for "undermining army