Somalia: South West briefly imprisons eight journalists in Baidoa while Galmudug imprisons a freelance reporter in Guriel
MOGADISHU, Somalia, – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and Somali Media Association (SOMA) condemn the arbitrary detention of eight journalists by the southwestern state police in Baidoa on Thursday, October 28, while calling on Galmudug police to unconditionally release journalist Mohamed Abdiwahab Tohow currently imprisoned in the city of Guriel.
On Thursday, October 28, the southwestern state police, led by Baidoa Airport Police Chief Hussein Kerow, arrested seven journalists from local media houses – Qasim Mohamed Ahmed Aadan, (HCTV reporter); Abdirashid Ahmed, (Shabelle TV); Hassan Ali Daud (Star TV); Mukhtar Sheikh Adan (Radio Warsan); Abdullahi Nur Adan (Radio Warsan / Saab TV); Farah Hussein Haji (Radio Warsan); and Mohamed Abdirahin (RTN TV) – who was at the airport gate to cover the arrival of former South West State President Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, who is now a presidential candidate in the upcoming Somali federal government election. The journalists were detained at the airport police station before being transferred to the Baidoa police headquarters.
Later that day, according to Radio Warsan’s management, police officers from the South West Criminal Investigation Department (CID) entered the Radio Warsan area of Baidoa and arrested the radio’s editor-in-chief, Mohamed Abdirahman Malele.
Police even summoned Radio Warsan director Hilal Sheikh Shueyb, who is also president of the Somali Media Association (SOMA), after condemning the journalists’ arrests in an interview with BBC Somali radio on Thursday afternoon. Shueyb was threatened with the arrest of Southwestern State Police Chief Amin Mad-Darur and Baidoa District Police Chief Mukhtar Ahmed Ibrahim (Dugudow). Mr Shueyb was also forced to apologize to the police or be sentenced to detention.
All eight journalists were released after Radio Warsan’s Facebook was posted with a statement in which the police apologized. There were no charges against them.
On Thursday, October 28, Galmudug police arbitrarily arrested freelance journalist Mohamed Abdiweli Tohow following his coverage of the recent clashes in Guriel between government forces and the Ahlusuna militia. He is being held at the Guiel police station.
When SJS contacted Guriel Police Chief Osman Ali Hudey, Tohow was arrested on the orders of Galmudug’s President Ahmed Abdi Karie Qorqor. Tohow’s arrest in Guriel comes less than a month after he was released from Dhusamareb police jail for his surveillance of the ongoing conflict in the region.
“We condemn these blatant violations against our colleagues in the southwest and in Galmudug. The police should know that journalists have the right to carry out their work freely without fear or retaliation, and to prevent such rights is a violation of human rights,” said Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, secretary. The General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said: “We condemn in the strongest possible way and call on both the Somali federal authorities and the federal member states, in particular Galmudug and the south-western state of Somalia to stop the harassment, arbitrary arrests and threats against journalists.”
“Journalists and media workers in general must be provided with a safe environment where they can work without fear.” Mr. Moomin added.
“Journalists have faced serious threats from the South West and Galmudug authorities, in addition to the attacks on the media, which unfortunately lead to media houses conducting self-censorship for the safety of their employees,” said Mohamed Osman Makaran, Secretary General of the Somali Media Association (SOMA). culture must end and regional authorities should respect the Somali constitution by allowing media outlets to carry out their profession without interference. “