• Campaigns

Djibouti: Further information on unfair trial / prisoners of conscience

, Index number: AFR 23/009/1999

On 20 October 1999 a court of appeal upheld the convictions of Ali Meidal Wais and Daher Ahmed Farah for ‘spreading false news’ and sentenced both men to six months' imprisonment. A third journalist, Moussa Ahmed Idriss, remains in prison having been found guilty of violently resisting arrest after an unfair trial on 6 October.

PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 23/09/99
26 October 1999
Further information on UA 254/99 (AFR 23/07/99, 28 September, and follow-up
AFR 23/08/99, 18 October) - Unfair trials / Prisoners of Conscience
DJIBOUTIAli Meidal Wais, journalist
Daher Ahmed Farah, journalist, opposition leader
Moussa Ahmed Idriss, journalist, opposition leader and member of parliament
On 20 October 1999 a court of appeal upheld the convictions of Ali Meidal Wais
and Daher Ahmed Farah for ‘spreading false news’ (diffusion de fausses
nouvelles) and sentenced both men to six months’ imprisonment. The six-month
suspension of the two newspapers for which they work remains in force, meaning
that there is no opposition newspaper currently being published in Djibouti.
The two men had initially been sentenced on 2 September to prison terms of
eight months and one year respectively and each fined one million Djibouti
francs after an unfair trial at which they were refused legal representation
of their choice. A lawyer from Avocats sans frontières, Lawyers without borders,
was allowed to represent them at the appeal hearing.
Their convictions followed articles which appeared in Le Temps, the Times,
and Le Renouveau, The Renewal, about an explosion which destroyed an army
helicopter. Ali Meidal Wais is a co-director of Le Temps and Daher Ahmed Farah,
the president of the opposition Parti du renouveau démocratique (PRD), Party
of Democratic Renewal, is the editor-in-chief of Le Renouveau, the journal
of the PRD.
A third journalist, Moussa Ahmed Idriss, also a co-director of Le Temps, remains
in prison having been found guilty of violently resisting arrest after an unfair
trial on 6 October(see AFR 23/08/99). Amnesty International is calling for
him and the 19 others convicted on the same charge to be immediately retried
in conformity with international standards for fair trial. Further charges
of ‘spreading false news’ are also outstanding against Moussa Ahmed Idriss,
but no date has yet been set for the trial.
Amnesty International considers Ali Meidal Wais and Daher Ahmed Farah to be
prisoners of conscience, convicted after an unfair trial and imprisoned
contrary to international standards for the freedom of the press. Amnesty
International would also consider Moussa Ahmed Idriss to be a prisoner of
conscience if he is convicted on charges of ‘spreading false news’.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/
airmail letters in French, English or in your own language:
- expressing your concern at the sentencing on 20 October of Daher Ahmed Farah
and Ali Meidal Wais to six months’ imprisonment for exercising their right
to freedom of expression;
- stating your view that their imprisonment violates international standards
on the freedom of the press;
- expressing concern that Ali Meidal Wais and Daher Ahmed Farah did not receive
a fair trial, particularly as they were prevented from having legal
representation at the original hearing;
- appealing for their immediate and unconditional release as prisoners of
- calling for the immediate withdrawal of the charges of spreading false news
against Moussa Ahmed Idriss and for an immediate re-trial, conforming to
international standards of fairness, of Moussa Ahmed Idriss and another 19
individuals convicted after an unfair trial on 6 October of violently resisting
Son Excellence Monsieur Ismael Omar Guelleh
Président de la République
La Présidence
BP 6
Djibouti, République de Djibouti
Telegrams: Président, Djibouti
Faxes: + 253 350174
Salutation:Monsieur le Président de la République / Dear President
Minister of Justice
Monsieur Mohamed Dini Farah
Ministre de la Justice
Ministère de la Justice
BP 12
Djibouti,République de Djibouti
Telegrams: Ministre Justice, Djibouti
Faxes: + 253 355420
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Dear Minister
Prime Minister
Monsieur Barkat Gourad Hamadou
Premier Ministre
BP 2086
Djibouti,République de Djibouti
Faxes:+ 253 351208
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Monsieur Mohamed Moussa Chehem
Ministre des affaires étrangères
Ministère des affaires étrangères
BP 1863
Djibouti, République de Djibouti
Faxes: + 253 353840
and to diplomatic representatives of DJIBOUTI accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 7 December 1999.

Choose a language to view report