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Journalists harassed, arrested in Mogadishu, Somaliland and Puntland

A Somali government soldier patrols near the Adam Ade airport in capital Mogadishu March 24.

Two members of privately-owned Radio Shabelle were arrested Sunday in Mogadishu, while two other journalists have been held in the northeastern region of Puntland and the northwestern region of Somaliland for more than a week, Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has reported. RSF called for the immediately release of all four journalists and a halt to their persecution.

“The transitional federal government is doing nothing to encourage the work of the media in a country in which the constant fighting is already the source of a great deal of danger for reporters and the intolerance of the Islamist militias makes their work even more dangerous if not impossible,” it said. “The authorities are supposed to enforce law and order but instead they are now posing an additional threat to journalists by intimidating them and carrying out abusive arrests without any legal grounds.”

On the orders of the ministry of information, posts and telecommunications, the National Security Agency (NSA) summoned Radio Shabelle news editor Abdi Mohamed Ismail on March 24 for questioning about a report critical of the transitional government’s president, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed. When Ismail finally went to NSA headquarters with Radio Shabelle director Abdirashid Omar Qase Sunday, both were immediately arrested and are still being held.

No official reason has been given for their detention. Information obtained by RSF suggests that they are not being fed and are not being allowed to receive visits. They are also reportedly being denied access to a lawyer.

Meanwhile, two journalists were harassed by soldiers in Las Anod, in the breakaway northwestern territory of Somaliland, on March 22 because of reports deemed to be defamatory. Mohamed Abdinur Hashi of Somali Channel TV was arrested while Mohamed Shaqale of Universal TV managed to avoid arrest and has since been in hiding. His laptop, camera and voice recorders were confiscated by the military, which is still looking for him.

Liban Abdi Farah of the Somali Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) was immediately arrested by police when he went to the site of a bomb explosion in Galkayo, in the semi-autonomous northeastern region of Puntland, on March 19. He is being held at police headquarters, where his relatives have been able to visit him but not his colleagues. Under Puntland’s judicial system, he should have been taken before a judge within 48 hours, but that has not yet taken place.

Date posted: March 29, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 106