Somali Police shoot at, beat up and briefly detain journalists in reporting mission in Mogadishu

Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) strongly condemns act of shooting and endangering the lives of two journalists from Radio Kulmiye who were on reporting mission in Mogadishu on  Wednesday morning 22 May, 2019 around 10:25am local time  by Somali government police officers.

Police officers at Daljirka security checkpoint in Mogadishu shot two bullets at Abdullahi Hussein Anshur, a news reporter and three bullets at cameraman Mohamed Abdulkadir Jirow who were filming a scene of a car bomb Wednesday morning. Both were fortunately unhurt.

After shooting the two journalists who got frightened ran to a nearby shelter where two police men followed and pointed their guns while threatening to kill them.

“Around 10.25am my cameraperson and I went to the blast scene to get news sources and film it. Upon reaching the place, we saw dead and injured people and we became part of the first responders helping victims. After that we started to interview eyewitnesses and film the scene when a police officer shot us several times,” said journalist Abdullahi Hussein Anshur who spoke to Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) after the incident.

The two journalists said their journalistic equipments and mobile phones were confiscated by the police who had also beaten them.  They were also held against their will in an open sunny ground and were refused to communicate their families to alert about their situation. They were released one hour and half later.

Journalist Anshur suffers a minor right hand bruises while his cameraman sustained back and hand bruises following the police beatings with guns.  Both of them were unable to go back to their radio station due to the injuries they had sustained.

“The officer who had a machine gun directly fired us. And when he came to us he started beating me and my colleague,” cameraman Mohamed Abdulkadir Jirow told Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS).

According to both journalists, the police officers who were from Waran Unit ordered the journalists to stop interviewing eyewitnesses of the blast scene and not to record film of the area.

“One of the officers came to us and threatened that he will kill us if we return back. He said it would be better you had died. Now you are lucky that you are alive,” cameraman Jirow said.

Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) calls for urgent investigation of today’s incident by the police, stop police brutality and allow media practitioners access to information.

“SJS condemns in the strongest terms possible against the police brutality, media restrictions on certain coverage including blast scenes,” SJS said, “We also calls for the government to ensure journalists’ safety and allow journalists to access information in order to be able to report freely to the public.”

SJS learned that there was unannounced order and restrictions by top Banadir Regional Police Command to prohibit journalists from going and reporting from blast scenes in the capital. We believe such order is meant only to conceal facts and to limit journalistic independence when reporting from explosion sites.

“We call that order be immediately lifted and allow journalists independently report news events without any restrictions.” SJS added.