SJS alarmed by the increased attacks on journalists across Somalia.

MOGADISHU,Somalia– Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) is alarmed by the increased attacks against the media professionals in Somalia with more than five incidents reported in February alone, making the press freedom situation more precarious.

On 4 March, Somali police detained the Nation FM radio journalist, Mohamed Yahye Jiinow in Mogadishu’s Hamar Jajab district after the district police chief ordered his detention. Jinow was arrested a day after interviewing a man who complained that his son was eaten by an alleged cannibal in Mogadishu. The journalist was held at Hamar Jajab police station for four hours before he was released later that day without charges.
On 22 February, Puntland police in Bosaso arrested freelance journalist Ahmed Botan Arab who reports on social media. His arrest followed after he posted video interviews on his Facebook page showing some residents of Bosaso commenting on a speech by the Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni had made the previous day. The speech touched on political developments in the region and the ongoing stalemate on the implementation of an electoral agreement between Somalia’s regional and federal leaders.

According to Botan who spoke to SJS after his release, he was first taken to outside of Bosaso on a police truck and was later transferred to a detention inside the Presidential Palace in Bosaso, and on late on the afternoon of 22 February before he was taken to the Bosaso Central Police Station where he was detained.  He was freed on 24 February and was not charged.  Botan’s camera equipment was seized by the police and was destroyed.

On 23 February, two Goobjoog journalists: news reporter Abdirahman Mohamed Abdi and cameraman Abdirisak Abdullah Fagas, were stopped by NISA officers at Daljirka Dahson in Mogadishu where they were filming shortly after the Presidential Opposition Candidates announced to hold a protest scheduled for 26 February.  The NISA officers confiscated the camera and deleted their footage. However, the two journalists were not arrested and were allowed to go after the footage was deleted.

On 25 February, Puntland police in Garowe detained news editor of Somali Television Network, Abdifatah Abdullahi Farah (known as Jiib). The Criminal Investigation Department officers visited the TV office in Garowe and detained him in connection with his coverage of a news story that contained some residents of Garowe town commenting on a speech by the Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni had made the previous day. He was detained and interrogated for several hours at Garowe central police station and later released on the same day without charge only after he had agreed not to publish reports critical of the Puntland government and its leaders.

On 25 February, plain-clothed NISA officers intimidated and stopped two Goobjoog journalists: news reporter Isaq Hersi Maalin and cameraman Mohamed Abduqadir during their assignment to collect vox pops about the election impasse from people on the streets at the Taleh junction in Hodan district. According to the journalists and their editor who spoke to SJS, the NISA officers showed their pistols to the journalists and called them ‘traitors’. The NISA officers then forced interviewees not to talk to the journalists. The journalists left and were not arrested.

On 25 February, Goobjoog cameraman Abdirisak Abdullahi Fagas was stopped near K4 in Mogadishu by two plain clothed NISA officers after he finished recording a video story. The NISA men asked Fagas where he came from and what he was doing as they thought that he was going for the opposition candidates, according to Fagas and his editor Hanad Ali Guled who spoke to SJS. After he told the officers that he was not on assignment that day, Fagas was allowed to go without any action.

“The Federal government and federal member states should respect the constitution which clearly states the freedom of expression and that of the press.  Security officers from NISA and the police should stop these endless harassment, intimidations and arrest of journalists,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said, “Such attacks against the press while the country is heading towards an election is unacceptable and might constitute a serious rights human rights violation and officers responsible should not go with impunity.”