IFJ Condemns Censorship, Detention of Journalists in Somalia

Nov. 30, 2007

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the recent waves of attacks on media in Somalia which have included arrests and censorship.

On Monday two journalists were arrested by forces in the self-proclaimed state of Somaliland for their work in a disputed town. The same day, the mayor of Mogadishu restricted media coverage of the conflict between the government and Islamist insurgents.

Our arrested colleagues as they have not violated any laws so they should be released immediately, said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. The media restrictions in Mogadishu are yet another attack on the press and are a clear abuse of power by the mayor. We urge the mayor to lift them immediately.

The IFJ also called on the government to make sure journalists and media workers can operate in total safety and freedom.

On Monday, in separate incidents in Las Anod in Nothern Somalia, Somaliland armed forces arrested freelance journalist Mohammed Shakale and reporter Abdiqani Hassan Farah, who works for Radio Las Anod and the Somaliland-based Jamhuuriya newspaper. According to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) the reason for their arrests has not been made public but is believed to be related to their reporting on the conflict in the region. They are still being held in detention.

The town of Las Anod was seized in October from the semi-autonomous region of Puntland by Somaliland forces. Both governments claim the region where the town is located.

In Mogadishu on Monday, Mayor Mohamed Dheere issued a decree imposing restrictions on the media, including prohibitions on covering government military operations, interviewing insurgents or reporting on the city’s fleeing civilians.

The mayor shut down Radio Shabelle, Radio Simba and Radio Benadir on November 12 and 13 after they reported on the conflict in Mogadishu on accusations that their reports were biased.

NUSOJ backs the closed media houses in their refusal [to submit to] the Mogadishu mayor’s calls to admit they have made mistakes in order to be allowed to resume operations, declared Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary General of NUSOJ.

For more information contact the IFJ at + 221 33 842 01 43
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide

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