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Freedom of the Press 2008 - Djibouti

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 29 April 2008
Cite as Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2008 - Djibouti, 29 April 2008, available at: [accessed 19 August 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 24 (of 30)
Political Environment: 25 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 23 (of 30)
Total Score: 72 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)

Although Article 15 of the constitution affords the right to free expression, in practice, the government imposes restrictions on the independent press. Free speech is limited by prohibitions on libel and distributing false information, and journalists frequently face harassment. The U.S. military presence in Djibouti creates additional pressures for self-censorship, as journalists are encouraged to refrain from reporting on soldiers' activities.

On February 1, authorities confiscated printing equipment from the Movement for Democratic Revival (MRD), prohibiting the opposition party from printing its newsletter, Le Renouveau. The paper's managing director, Houssein Ahmed Farah and three other staff members were arrested on charges of libel and detained for two days. The arrests followed critical coverage of the governor of the national bank, who is also President Ismael Omar Guelleh's brother-in-law. Authorities subsequently suspended the paper's production for three months. Houssein Ahmed Farah was detained again on May 6 for approximately one week. On June 3, authorities arrested Farah Abadid Hildid, a Le Renouveau employee and MRD member, and was sentenced to one month imprisonment on June 14 on charges of disseminating false information. According to the media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, Djibouti has joined the ranks of Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea as one of the three Sub-Saharan African countries without a private paper, although Djiboutian law technically permits all registered political parties to publish a paper.

Because of high poverty levels, radio is the most popular news medium, as few Djiboutians can afford newspapers or televisions. The government owns the country's only radio and television stations, Radio Djibouti and Djibouti Television, respectively, and monitors satellite usage. The British Broadcasting Corporation, Voice of America Radio, and Radio France International are also available, although the later was temporarily closed in 2005. The country's only newspaper is the government-owned La Nation, which is published three times weekly. The only internet service provider is government owned. Although there are no reports that the government monitors email or internet activity, just over 2 percent of the population was able to use this resource in 2007.

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