Somalia: South West State detains TV journalist, Jubbaland restricts independent media covering the state assembly

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Mogadishu (Onkod Radio)— Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and the Somali Media Association (SOMA) condemns the arbitrary detention against RTN television reporter, Mohamed Abdirahin Mohamed, who is a member of SJS human rights journalists network, by South West State police in Baidoa, on Tuesday and the restrictions against journalists covering Jubbaland State Assembly sitting in Kismayo on Wednesday.

Around 5:00pm on Tuesday, Baidoa police officers detained journalist Mohamed Abdirahin Mohamed from Baidoa city centre following his interview with an opposition member of the South West State Assembly. The lawmaker, among six others, protested against the revocation of their immunity and membership in the state assembly. According to the journalist, armed police officers— acting on the orders of the Baidoa police commissioner, lieutenant colonel Mukhtar Mohamed Dugudow — were following him when he left the hotel and later detained him.

“I was held at the main police station where I stayed during the night. The confiscated my phone and nobody informed me why I was arrested. There are no charges presented against me until now,” Mohamed said.

The journalist was freed on Wednesday morning on a condition that he will not publish the interview he conducted with the lawmaker and that he will refrain from any critical coverage on president Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed (Laftagareen).

When contacted, the Baidoa police commissioner, lieutenant colonel Dugudow and Bay Regional Police Commissioner, Amin Mad-Darur did not respond.

On Wednesday, Jubbaland president’s office banned independent media from covering the opening session of the fourth sitting of the Jubbaland Assembly in Kismayo where president Ahmed Mohamed Islam (Madobe) was addressing the regional lawmakers. Journalists told SJS and SOMA that the orders to ban the media was given by the president’s communications director.

SJS and SOMA call for authorities in Southwest State to uphold their international legal obligations and immediately put an end to arbitrary detention against journalists covering the opposition lawmakers ahead of the regional elections.

“We condemn the arbitrary detention of our colleague Mohamed Abdirahin Mohamed, who is a member of our human rights journalists network. We are glad that he got his freedom now. Unlawful arrests of journalists must stop, and authorities must accept criticism and complaints raised against them,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary-General of SJS said. “We also condemn the restrictions against the independent journalists in Kismayo today. A free press contributes to making the public aware of the activities of the government system including the parliament so that they can monitor and hold their representatives accountable.”

“We strongly condemn the yesterday’s arrest of journalist Mohamed Abdirahin Mohamed in Baidoa, and the blockage against the independent journalists in Jubbaland today. We call on the authorities in South West and Jubbaland to allow press freedom and stop threatening journalists,” Mohamed Osman Makaran, the Secretary-General of SOMA said.

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