Somaliland should free two TV journalists detained for covering protests in Hargeisa

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Mogadishu (Onkod Radio) — Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and the Somali Media Association (SOMA) call for Somaliland authorities to free without condition two local television journalists detained since 11 August in Hargeisa after covering opposition protests that turned deadly in Somaliland.

On 11 August, Police in Hargeisa detained two Horyaal24 TV journalists, Abdinasir Abdi Haji Nur and Ahmed-Zaki Ibrahim Mohamud after covering violent protests over the postponed elections in Hargeisa and other towns that day. According to colleagues, police initially held them at the criminal investigation department before transferring them to the Mandhera prison on 15 August.

SJS and SOMA are concerned that Somaliland authorities are holding the two journalists without any charges and even after the Hargeisa court ordered for their release. Both Somaliland’s interior minister and the police chief did not respond to SJS and SOMA calls seeking explanation on the two journalists’ detention.

SJS and SOMA calls Somaliland authorities to cease using internet blackout to suppress access to information including independent news coverage of the media. On Thursday 11 August, Somaliland authorities ordered internet service providers to shut the network which severely impacted media’s role in covering and relaying information to citizens. The shutdown also affected parts of Southern and Central Somalia.

“Somaliland authorities should immediately free Horyaal24 TV journalists, Abdinasir Abdi Haji Nur and Ahmed-Zaki Ibrahim Mohamud from the prison. Journalism is not a crime and therefore police officers should stop targeting and jailing journalists who cover news incidents such as public protests,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary-General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said. “Authorities should also stop turning to internet shutdown to silence critical voices including the news reports of the independent media.”

“We strongly condemn the detention of Horyaal24 TV journalists, Abdinasir Abdi Haji Nur and Ahmed-Zaki Ibrahim Mohamud which is illegal. We call for their immediate freedom. Until now they are not charged but unfortunately, authorities decided to hold them in the prison and this is unacceptable,” Mohamed Osman Makaran, the Secretary-General of the Somali Media Association (SOMA) said.

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