Senegal: CPJ condemns Djibouti for expelling BBC journalists ahead of elections

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) - Djibouti should ensure that journalists can report on presidential elections without harassment or fear of expulsion, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said.

In a statement, made available to PANA in Dakar, Senegal, on Thursday, CPJ condemned Djiboutian authorities for detaining and expelling a team of BBC journalists from the country.

"An election can be free and fair only if journalists can cover it without being harassed, detained or expelled," remarked CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney.

"The expulsion of a news crew after they had interviewed the foreign minister and an opposition figure is an act of censorship and casts doubt on the fairness and transparency of this poll."

The statement disclosed that the BBC on 4 April reported that it had written to the government of Djibouti to ask why authorities had detained and expelled its team of reporters and producers, including the BBC's Africa security correspondent, Tomi Oladipo.

It said the team of journalists was in the country ahead of the presidential elections, scheduled for 8 April, and was accredited to work there.

Police were said to have detained the group after they interviewed Djibouti's foreign minister and an opposition candidate on 1 April, then put them on a plane the following morning.

Oladipo described their ordeal in an interview with the BBC World Service.

According to the media freedom watchdog, the Djiboutian government has not responded to a letter from the broadcaster seeking an explanation and neither the office of the prime minister nor the minister of foreign affairs returned CPJ's phone calls about the matter.

President Ismail Omar Guelleh is seeking a fourth term in this week's elections and CPJ quoted African Union guidelines for a free and fair elections which hold that there must be freedom of "assembly, association, expression, and campaigning as well as access to the media on the part of all stakeholders."

Meanwhile, the statement also recalled that Djiboutian police in January arrested two local journalists, Mohamed Ibrahim Waiss and Kadar Abdi Ibrahim, and held them without contact with the outside world for more than a week.

Khadar and Mohamed were both released in late January. Khadar received a two-month suspended prison sentence and the journalists were not informed of any charges against them.
-0- PANA MLJ/VAO 7April2016

07 april 2016 13:08:25




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