Media Watchdog Denounces “Unjustified” Mass Arrests of Journalists In Somalia

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Thursday strongly condemned the mass and “unjustified” arrest of Journalists in Somali, calling for their immediate release.

IFJ and its Somali affiliate, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) in a statement said that Somaliland police arrested 16 journalists and raided the headquarters of Horn Cable TV on 13 April.

Some journalists were arrested while they were covering a standoff between inmates and guards at the Hargeisa Central Prison where a riot had broken out, the report said.

“Later in the day, police raided the headquarters of Horn Cable TV in Hargeisa as part of efforts to prevent broadcasts on the events at the prison and arrested more media workers,” the statement added.

According to NUSOJ, fourteen journalists are still being detained in the Central Police Station of Hargeisa and Secret Services detention center.

Two female journalists, Sagal Mustafe Hassan Nur, reporter for VOA, and Naima Abdi Ahmed, freelance journalist and youtuber, were also arrested but released later on.

“We condemn this arbitrary, uncalled for action by the police and demand for the immediate and unconditional release of the detained journalists,” said NUSOJ Secretary General, Omar Faruk Osman.

Osman said that the journalists were covering an event of public interest that citizens have a right to know about. “Their activities are protected under the law and the police have a duty to provide protection to journalists on duty instead of harassing, assaulting and arresting them,” Osman added.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger also condemned in the strongest possible terms the efforts by Somaliland authorities to “control media freedom and the free flow of information.”

“The mass arrests of journalists and the storming of a newsroom to prevent the dissemination of information and footage are very serious actions against press freedom. Our colleagues must be released immediately.” Bellanger added.

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