Somalia: Journalist Imprisonment without trail a common case in Puntland

Published: December 29, 2009

A journalist kept in sectret prison without trail !
On 21st of December, Mohamed Yassin Ishak, the Voice of America reporter in Galkacyo, was arrested by the Puntland authorities, after a midnight raid on his home by security agents.
A group of twenty-five soldiers with two battlewagons raided the journalist‘s house in Galkacyo, according to Ishak’s wife. 
Mohamed Yassin was taken to Garowe, the regional capital of Puntland, where he was allegedly interrogated by the police and other state officials, he was then later transferred to the heavily guarded headquarter of Puntland Intelligence Service (PIS) in Bosaso.
For more than seven days he is not seen by his relatives, colleagues and friends.
His wife says, they don’t know why he was arrested and what crimes he might have committed, other than being a journalist.
It is not the first time that Mohamed Yassin Ishak was personally targeted by the Puntland authorities.
In October, Puntland’s regional authority imposed a temporary ban on VOA reporting and broadcasts, after accusing the U.S. government-funded agency of producing “negative” reports that caused instability.
The journalists relate Mohamed Yassin’s arrest as a reprisal of his reporting on the crackdown by the government against the internally displaced people from Southern Somalia due to insecurity prevailing.
The Puntland administration accuses these displaced people of breaching the security system and harbouring “Al-Shabaab fighters”. Puntland accuses Al-Shabaab members of being responsible for recent killings and explosions in main towns of Puntland. Mohamed Yasin Ishak interviewed in his reports members of Internally displaced persons who were complaining the way the administration targeted them, which they said is collective punishment and they feel to be discriminated against the community they are living with.
On 17th of November, Mohamed Yasin Ishak suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder, after a police officer fired on his car while passing through police checkpoint in his home town of Galkacyo.
The Media associations in the region are concerned about increasing attacks against journalists in Puntland.
“…We have particular concerns for the safety and welfare of journalist Mohamed Yasin Ishaq. This directive is part of ongoing intimidation and suppression against the rights of journalists and the freedom of Expression…,’’ said Burhan Ahmed Dahir, Puntland Coordinator of The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and Secretary of Media Associations in Puntland (MAP).
Constitutionally the Puntland government can not hold people in prison indefinitely. The law requires that charges be filed within 48 hours.
It is dark days for independent media and journalists in Puntland. They have never felt so threatened and targeted by the authorities.
Sources close to the Police say, Mohamed Yassin Ishak was arrested under direct orders from the President’s office. Still there is no official word from the Puntland government on why the journalist is kept in a secret prison.
Recently the Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole named his own son Mohamed Abdirahman, as his advisor on Media and press issues. It is not yet clear whether the naming of the President’s son as the state advisor on Media and the current crackdown on journalists are related.
Hussein Farah
Horseed Media

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