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Opposition radio reporters arrested again, concern about mistreatment

(RSF/IFEX) - 24 November 2011 - Reporters Without Borders condemns the 21 November arrests of Farah Abadib Hildid and Houssein Robleh Dabar, two journalists who were held for four months earlier this year, and is concerned about the treatment they will receive while detained. They are reporters for La Voix de Djibouti, an opposition radio station that broadcasts from Europe.

"This is the second time these two radio journalists have been arrested by the gendarmerie," Reporters Without Borders said. "Everything suggests that the authorities wanted to prevent them from reporting on the existence of a leaflet calling for an opposition demonstration. "As one of them was tortured the first time they were arrested, we fear they could suffer the same fate again. We call for their immediate release and firmly condemn this arbitrary attempt to control news and information."

Hildid and Dabar were arrested by the gendarmerie's Investigation and Documentation Section (SRD), which is headed by Lt. Abdoulkarim Ibrahim Youssouf. One of its members, Sgt. Abdourahman "Doudou" Ali Ismaël, is believed to be the person who tortured Hildid while he was in the gendarmerie's custody for five days in February, before his transfer to prison.

It is believed that they were arrested this time to prevent La Voix de Djibouti from publicizing the distribution of a leaflet calling for a "Day of Anger" protest. The leaflet was apparently written by Mohamed Souleiman Cheik Moussa, a magistrate who was arrested the same day as the journalists.

Hildid and Dabar were previously arrested by gendarmes on 5 February and were transferred on 9 February to Gabode prison on a charge of "participating in an insurrectional movement." While in the gendarmerie's custody, Hildid was tortured by the gendarmes who interrogated him. This serious violation of human rights conventions signed by Djibouti could result in a case being brought against those responsible before an international court.

After four months in Gabode prison, Hildid and Dabar were finally released on 23 June following appeals to the appeal court and the Supreme Court, but they remained under judicial control. Hildid was summoned by an investigating judge on 17 September but was released after questioning.

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