Somalia Must Stop Violations Against Media Freedom and Freedom of Opinion
STOCKHOLM - Skyline International states that journalists in Somalia are suffering from repression and harassment. The Somalian government and other political actors are bluntly limiting freedom of expression and speech. In a press release, Skyline calls the "Somaliland" and Puntland authorities to release several detained journalists without charges.
The Somali territory remains under the control of non-state entities that do not recognize the central government; journalists are exposed to all kinds of restrictions from all political actors.
Skyline stresses that its essential to halt intimidation and persecution campaigns against journalists. Journalists should freely exercise their profession without fear of reprisals following international covenants.
Skyline has complied testimonies indicating that several journalists were unlawfully arrested. On September 6, two journalists from the (Radio Dalgir) were summoned and held for 24 hours. They were released on the condition that they would be summoned once again when the prosecutor finishes preparing the charges against them.
In Las Anod town, Somaliland police on Monday, September 7, arrested Saab TV reporter, "Abd al-Fattah Muhammad Abdi," because he published an article reporting the damage to the city's roads by the recent rains.
The next day, the same city authorities arrested the journalist " Khadar Rigah" one week after he coveredÂ a local businesswoman's protestÂ against the recent demolition of business structures and taxes hike. He is still in detention without any specific charges against him.
On August 25, Somaliland police arrested journalist Saeed Musa Farah because he covered local protests on the high water prices in Erigavo. He was detained for more than a week and then freed on bail.
Skyline International strongly condemns the judicial harassment and arbitrary arrests of journalists by Somaliland authorities. These arrests represent a flagrant violation of freedom of opinion and expression and media freedom in the country.
According to the World Freedom Index, Somalia ranks 163 (out of 180 countries). It is also on the list of the most dangerous countries in the African continent for journalists to work. Thus, media freedom suffers gravely in an atmosphere of corruption and insecurity.
Skyline demands that Somaliland and Puntland authorities stop their repression against journalists and end harassment on local media. They should also halt arresting journalists and bring them to both military and civil courts, under old laws dating back the military dictatorship era and repression.
The recent appointment of a Special Prosecutor in the country is a ray of hope that could help put an end to such crimes without impunity. According to Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General: “impunity has fuelled a cycle of unceasing violence against journalists in almost all regions of Somalia. It is important to determine the responsibilities of each actor in these heinous crimes, and we urge the Special Prosecutor to live up to the trust placed in him.”