SOMALIA: TFG rebuffs Amnesty International report

Published: July 23, 2010

Mogadishu 23 (HM) – A Statement released by the Ministry of Information of Somali government counters Amnesty International’s new briefing paper, Hard News: Journalists’ lives in danger in Somalia issued on wednesday which makes allegations of abuse against media by TFG forces.
Minister of Information, Abdirahman Osman, said:
“It is with great regret that we receive these allegations from Amnesty International especially without the opportunity to respond.
“In relation to the incident on 29 June, our forces did engage what they believed to be a valid and defined Al Shabaab target, in an attempt to re-take a key position in the city.  However, unknown to our forces, Al Shabaab had quickly moved journalists into their position for propaganda purposes, and a number were sadly injured in the subsequent action.
“In relation to the reported incident on 1 July, we regret and apologies for the seemingly harsh treatment of these individuals.  However, the actions of these men were actively jeopardizing the security of both themselves and AMISOM/TFG security forces around them.  Under extreme circumstances, TFG troops and police attempted to move these journalists out of harm’s way. 
Medical treatment was not denied, but provided as soon as the situation allowed, said the statement.
Today’s statement, the Ministry denies that were any threats from the government to journalists.
“However, we refute the allegation that New York Times correspondent Mohammed Ibrahim fled Somalia after threats from government security forces, following the publication of an article alleging that government forces included child soldiers.  We understand that this journalist has left the country, but I am willing to meet with him to discuss his concerns.
“The TFG regrets these incidents and apologises to those involved.  We would stress, however, that the TFG takes its responsibilities to the freedom of the media and the innocent civilian public very seriously.  These were isolated and regrettable incidents.  Our soldiers undertake exceptional work under extremely dangerous and difficult conditions.  We are very proud of them and the high standards they endeavor to maintain.  The Somali people, especially those in Mogadishu, know that their soldiers work hard for them and never knowingly place them in danger.” Said the statement by the Ministry of Information.
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