Somalia state media journalist suspended, salary cut due to Facebook post

Somalia state media journalist suspended, salary cut due to Facebook post

Mogadishu (Raxanreeb) —  The Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) expresses serious concerns regarding the suspension and salary cut against journalist Sugaal Moalim Mohamud, who is employed by the Somalia government-owned media outlet in retaliation for expressing views regarding the Somali government’s military operations, particularly highlighting issues of mismanagement and corruption within the Ministry of Defense.

On March 13, 2024, the Director General of the Ministry of Information, Abdullahi Hayir Duale, issued a letter titled ‘Decision Making on Labour Complaint,’ wherein he authorized the suspension of journalist Sugaal Moalim Mohamud, a reporter at Radio Mogadishu and Somali National TV (SNTV) from his duties for a period of one month, along with a corresponding cut in his monthly pay. Additionally, Sugaal was prohibited from accessing the Ministry of Information building for the same duration. The letter was formally communicated to the National Civil Service Commission.

“Sugaal has been accused of publishing a comment against the Somali Government on his private Facebook knowing the rules and regulations of the state media,” Director Duale said in his letter.

Even though the suspension period ended on April 13, 2024, the journalists confirmed that he is still in suspension and his salary stopped.

A day prior to the Director General Duale’s decision, journalist Sugaal Moalim Mohamud posted a comment on his Facebook page, addressing the Somali government’s military operations against Al-Shabaab. In his post, he directed a message to the President, “Mr. President, if the Somali National Army (SNA) does not get real leadership and change, all the successes achieved in the past will end in failure similar to what happened in CaadCamaara and Shabeelow. The army will withdraw back to Adale and to the places where the struggle started. The brains, asset and blood of native-born heroes were lost in the struggle against [Al-Shabaab] and it is a failure for us and it will not be repairable. Once the Command and Leadership is lost, our failure will begin and there is no solution. Long live Somalia,” the journalist on his Facebook.

Despite the subsequent deletion of the post, SJS managed to obtain a copy and conducted a review of its contents.

SJS previously received similar cases where journalists who criticized ministry officials or simply questioned the officials’ wrongdoings were targeted, fired, suspended or their salaries cut.

“We strongly condemn the suspension and the salary cut against journalist Sugaal Moalim Mohamud for expressing his views. Journalists, regardless of their affiliation with state-owned or independent media, have the right to express their views and opinions freely without fear of reprisal or persecution – even if those views are critical to the government,” said SJS Secretary General, Abdalle Mumin, “The targeted suspension and salary cut against Sugaal Moalim Mohamud is a blatant violation of his right to freedom of expression. This does not only directly contravene the Somali Provisional Constitutional provisions that guarantee press freedom and freedom of expression and opinion, it also violates international standards of press freedom and would undermine the fundamental principles of democracy enshrined in Somalia’s constitution. SJS is also concerned about the threats of further action and harassment against the journalist as that may now constitute to a human rights violation.”

SJS urges the National Civil Service Commission to reject the decision issued by the Director General of the Ministry of Information and to ensure that journalist Sugaal Moalim Mohamud receives his salary without any further harassment. We also call upon Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre to intervene and instruct officials at the Ministry of Information to reinstate journalist Sugaal Moalim Mohamud without delay, while putting an end to all forms of threats and harassment directed towards him.

Furthermore, we demand that the Ministry of Information cease all intimidation tactics and refrain from targeting other state media journalists who have expressed critical views, including those who have questioned the behavior of the Deputy Minister Abdirahman Yusuf Al Adaala, and more specifically, those who raised alarm on the diversion of funds allocated to satellite rentals for the SNTV and the misuse of funds intended for food rations for employees working within the state media. Many of these employees are reportedly working without pay, which is unacceptable and requires immediate attention and resolution.

“Journalists working for the state media face death threats from Al-Shabaab due to their affiliation with the government. It is doubly saddening that they are once again targeted by the same government officials within the Ministry of Information simply because their views are deemed critical while compromising their personal safety and security,” added Mr. Mumin.