SJS urges authorities in Mogadishu, Lasanod, Hargeisa and Burao to respect press freedom and end arbitrary detentions

(from left to the right) Xogreeb News editor Abdiasis Bashir Nuur; Kobciye Media reporter Abdirisaq Abdirahman Mohamud Duale and Ahmed Boqorre of CBA TV. | PHOTO SJS.

MOGADISHU, Somalia – The Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) calls upon officials in Mogadishu, Somaliland and SSC-Khaatumo to respect freedom of the press and stop recurrent arbitrary detentions and use of threats to censor journalists including those working for the Somali state media in Mogadishu.

On Thursday, 23 May, 2024, Somaliland police in Hargeisa detained Abdiasis Bashir Nuur, the editor of privately-owned Xogreeb News, at the Hargeisa Criminal Investigation Department (CID) following a report published by Xogreeb News on 16 May. The report alleges that Telesom, a private telecom company in Somaliland, had a history of not participating in the May 18 celebration of Somaliland and that the telecom firm offers no assistance whenever the local community is affected by disasters. Local journalists told SJS that at around 5:20 pm (local time) on Thursday, the police from the CID headquarters in Hargeisa detained journalist Abdiasis Bashir Nuur from his residence in Hargeisa. The police officers that arrested the journalist did not show a warrant. However, according to his journalist colleagues, when they went to the CID headquarters, the police informed them that the telecom company had filed a complaint against the journalist. He is currently being held in police custody. Telesom is yet to comment on the journalist’s detention.

On 3 May, 2024, Abdiqani Abdullahi, a journalist at the Somali National News Agency (SONNA) received a warning after publishing an article about Mogadishu University’s journalism students marking World Press Freedom Day with a tree plantation event. The photos in the article included the SJS Secretary of Information and Human Rights, Mohamed Ibrahim Bulbul, who also participated in the event. Sources at SONNA told SJS that their journalist and an editor who worked on the story were threatened with suspension by the Deputy Minister of Information, Abdirahman Yusuf Al Adaala, forcing them to immediately edit the article and to remove the photos of Mohamed Bulbul. However, a similar article with the photos of Mohamed Bulbul appeared on Mogadishu University’s online platforms as well as other private media channels.

On 12 May, 2024, SSC-Khaatumo police in Lasanod detained Abdirisaq Abdirahman Mohamud Duale, a reporter for Kobciye Media, a Facebook-based news platform, in Lasanod town, Sool region. According to an editor at Kobciye Media who spoke to SJS, Abdirisaq’s arrest came after he published an interview with a member of SSC-Khaatumo forces who threatened to “harm prisoners held in Lasanod prison in retaliation for prisoners held by Somaliland”. The interview, which SJS reviewed, was published on 12 May and still remains in the platform. The journalist was freed on Sunday, 19 May, after being held at the police station for eight days, and no charges were filed.

On 16 May, 2024, Somaliland police in Buroa arrested CBA journalist, Ahmed Boqorre, after his news report in which a family in Buroa alleged that their pregnant daughter had died after being given the wrong injection while at the hospital. The hospital did not comment on the matter. However, local journalists told SJS that the police freed the journalist after the television station agreed to take down the news report. The journalist was released on Sunday, 19 May, and no charges were made against him.

“We call for the authorities in Hargeisa to free Abdiasis Bashir Nuur, the editor of privately-owned Xogreeb News and respect the right for journalists to scrutinize both government and business companies. Instead of detaining journalists like Abdiasis, it is better idea for Telesom to improve its corporate and social responsibility,” said SJS Secretary General Abdalle Mumin.

“While we welcome the freedom of all our colleagues Abdirisaq Abdirahman Mohamud Duale and Ahmed Boqorre, we would like to urge authorities in Burao and Lasanod to refrain from detaining and harassing journalists for doing their work. We also call for the officials at the ministry of information of Somalia to cease their targeted actions including acts of threats of suspension and firing against journalists working for the state media to censor their reporting,” added Mr. Mumin.

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