SJS condemns attacks on media and journalists; calls for respect for freedom of press

MOGADISHU, Somalia 9 January, 2024 – The Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) strongly condemns the recent surge in attacks targeting critical media institutions and detention of journalists in Hargeysa and Mogadishu.

On the night of Saturday, January 6, 2024, Somaliland police conducted a raid on the MM Somali TV studio, a privately-owned station, in Hargeisa during a discussion on the Somaliland-Ethiopia Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The police violently detained MM Somali TV founder Mohamed Abdi Ilig, reporter Mohamed Abdi Abdullahi (known as Andar), and cameraman Ilyaas Abdinasir. Although reporter Mohamed Abdi Abdullahi (Andar) and cameraman Ilyaas Abdinasir were released on the afternoon of January 9 without charges, the station’s founder Mohamed Abdi Ilig remains in detention without any charges brought against him.

Additionally, on January 7, armed police officers executing eviction orders from the Banadir Regional Court chairman, targeted RTN TV reporter Abdihafid Nor Barre and cameraman Abdukadir Abukar Ali in Mogadishu’s Waberi district. The television crew was covering the eviction incident, conducting interviews with family members residing in the affected property. The interviewed family members asserted that the eviction was unlawful and implicated senior court officials in the case. The journalists were forced to flee to safety after an armed police officer pointed a gun at them while the reporter was recording a piece-to-camera clip. The station’s editor told SJS that Abdihafid and Abdukadir left the site unharmed.

While expressing our concern about the rise of hate speech and the calls for violence in the wake of the Somaliland-Ethiopia MOU, SJS emphasizes the importance of maintaining an open and free space for diverse views. However, we note the increasing fear among journalists and media stations in Somaliland and Mogadishu when presenting diverse perspectives which also impacted the ordinary citizens.

“While we welcome the release of MM Somali TV reporter Mohamed Abdi Abdullahi (Andar) and cameraman Ilyaas Abdinasir after their detention on Saturday night, we call for the immediate and unconditional freedom of Mohamed Abdi Ilig, the founder of MM Somali TV, who remains in detention in Hargeisa,” said SJS Secretary-General Abdalle Ahmed Mumin.

“In the realm of media, the primary duty is to tell the story, and no journalist or media entity should face intimidation for expressing political perspectives that may differ from prevailing sentiments. We call for the preservation of freedom of speech and endorse the right to engage in unfettered and independent media reporting—a fundamental requirement for any thriving democratic society,” Mumin added.

(Source: SJS)

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