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SJS condemns multiple arrests against journalists in Somalia’s Hirshabelle and Puntland

Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) condemns the arbitrary arrests against four journalists in the towns of Galkayo and Bulo-Burte on Wednesday 19 February and Thursday 20 February respectively.

Journalists Said Abdullahi Kulmiye (Said Nadara) and Ahmed Mohamed Ali photographed while in detention in Galkayo on Thursday 20 Feb, 2020. | Photo/Courtesy/Private.

Radio Hiiraan-Weyn reporter, Mumin Muhumed Biyow was at 10.00 a.m local time on Wednesday morning taken into custody by Somali National Army (SNA) in the town of Bulo-Burte in Hiiraan region as he was going to interview local traditional elders who opposed the controversial appointment of a new district commissioner, Feysal Hajir Adan. The journalist’s equipment including mobile phone, camera and voice recorders were confiscated, according to colleagues who spoke to SJS. He was released on Wednesday night without charge.

“Our reporter Mumin Muhumed was on his way to meet an interview the elders when the military officers led by Captain Abdulkadir Ali Nur from the 27th Division of the 41st Brigade’s 5th Company, of SNA arrested him. He was detained at the military camp until 8.30 p.m when he was released,” director of Radio Hiiraan-Weyn, Mohamed Osman Makaran who told SJS that the journalist’s equipment were returned.

Radio Hiiraan-Weyn reporter, Mumin Muhumed Biyow briefly arrested in Bulo-Burte town, Hiiraan region, central Somalia, Wednesday 19 Feb, 2020. | Photo/ Courtesy/Radio Hiiraan-Weyn.

In a separate incident, Puntland authorities in Galkayo arrested three journalists: Kasmaal Media editor, Said Abdullahi Kulmiye (known as Said Nadara); SBC TV reporter, Abdiwali Jama Agarane and the director of Radio Voice of Peace (Codka Nabadda) Ahmed Mohamed Ali. The three were covering a protest by the local business community complaining against taxes hike and subsequently led to the closure of businesses in Galkayo on Thursday.

According to Said Nadara, the police confiscated their journalistic equipment and started punching and beating with their guns before arresting the three journalists. The police officers were accompanied by the accountant of Puntland’s Ministry of Finance, Ismail Nur Gesey who, according to the journalists ordered the arrest and physical harassment against the journalists. 

“They [police] together with the accountant of the Ministry of Finance, Mr Ismail Gesey punched us and beat us with their guns. Mr. Gesey further threatened that he will harm us if we report the news of the protest,” journalist Said Nadara told SJS.

The three journalists were released after intervention from Governor of Mudug, Mr. Ahmed Muse Nur. There were no charges brought so far against the trio.

“We condemn the unlawful detentions and intimidations meant to stop journalists from covering certain issues of public interest. These actions are violations against the right to freedom of information,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, Secretary General of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said, “We call for the regional and the federal authorities to investigate the matter and bring those responsible to justice.”

“Independent reporting is the only way to flourish a democratic and healthy society and attacking, arresting and intimidating journalists might constitute rights violation and therefore officials responsible for these violations should never get away with it.” Mumin added.

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