Djiboutian police forces arrested Waiss as he was covering a demonstration by the opposition in Djibouti city. Beaten and his eye wounded during his arrest, he was taken to the Hodan police station where he was again subjected to police violence and did not receive medical attention.
Waiss was only able to see his lawyer after several days of custody and was charged with "participation and funding of illegal demonstrations" – facts that he denies. He is now at risk of being convicted, following an unfair trial aimed solely at preventing him from exercising his profession as a journalist in an independent and critical manner. Waiss has already been the object of several attempts of intimidation by the authorities; in particular he has been arbitrarily detained on many occasions.
Today, the risk of seeing convicted on false charges is large and shows the authorities' willingness of to silence all dissent in the country. In fact, the government has been persecuting opposition groups, journalists and human rights defender for many months now. The authorities of Djibouti, a small country in the Horn of Africa, home to two major French and American military bases, seem to disregard the civil and political rights of their citizens and continue to act with impunity.
Hence, Alkarama called on the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to intervene urgently with the Djibouti authorities and ask that Waiss be released immediately. The Djibouti authorities must end the crackdown against members of the opposition and provide an opportunity for the resumption of a sustainable dialogue. They must also ensure the journalists' free exercise of their profession, which involves changing the existing laws on press freedom to bring them in line with Djibouti's international obligations.