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Publisher Djimet Wiché attacked by Chadian police while covering protests

A street in N'Djamena, Chad renamed as Istanbul Street, 28 December 2017
A street in N'Djamena, Chad renamed as Istanbul Street, 28 December 2017

Alaattin Dogru/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 14 February 2018.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the threats and violence that the Chadian security forces have used against Djimet Wiché, the publisher of the Alwihda Info news website, twice in recent weeks while he was covering streets protests in the capital, N'Djamena, against the government's austerity measures.

Wiché was covering one of these protests, a peaceful march organized by civil society groups, on 8 February 2018 when members of the National Security Agency (ANS) stopped him. He told DJA FM, a privately-owned radio station, that they took his camera and mobile phone and then handed him (and his equipment) to a police patrol.

The police detained him briefly by force and then, after making him promise not to publish his photos, released him and returned the confiscated camera and phone. "If you ever publish the photos in a newspaper or on social networks, we will know it was you and we'll come looking for you," the senior officer present warned Wiché.

Two weeks before that, on 25 January, Wiché was covering an anti-government demonstration when he was grabbed and punched by police officers and then dragged along the ground for about 100 metres. The spokesman for the national police gave him an apology the next day.

"Any form of violence or intimidation designed to prevent journalists from doing their job is completely unacceptable," RSF said. "The authorities must realize that journalists play an essential role by covering protests and must be allowed to perform their duties without fear of reprisals. We also remind the authorities that it is their job to guarantee the safety of journalists, especially in the run-up to legislative elections."

The police violence has been condemned by the head of the National Resistance Council for Democracy, Moussa Pascal Sougui, who told the authorities that they must allow journalists to work freely and without any form of obstruction.

Wiché has decided to file a complaint against the ANS and the police with the support of Chad's media unions.

Chad is ranked 121st out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

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