The IPI global network calls on Somalia authorities to increase the protection of journalists following recent incidents of arrests and harassment by police. IPI strongly condemns authorities’ actions of raiding newsrooms and detaining journalists.
On January 30, armed police raided Sooyaal TV and Radio, a local media station in Abudwak town, and beat and detained its director, Mahad Bashir Osman, according to the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS). Before this, Osman had interviewed a group of police officers who went on strike. He was later freed.
Mahad told SJS that the police confiscated external hard-drives and memory cards used to record the interviews and damaged other equipment inside the studio.
“We call on Galmudug leadership to urgently investigate this attack and hold all officers involving in it accountable”, Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the secretary general of SJS, wrote in a statement on February 2. “They should also return all equipment confiscated from the radio.”
Just about a week before, on January 21, armed police took over Radio Hiiraan Weyn, shutting it down before detaining seven journalists on duty. The raid quickly followed the broadcast of an interview with a political group opposed to the current leadership in the state of Hirshabelle. They were all in police custody for a few hours but later freed.
One of the seven journalists who was detained, Abdullahi Ali Abukar, was stopped by police later that week on January 24, harassed and beaten by the officers’ guns before being ordered to carry out forced labor for an hour. He was then freed.
More journalists have been arrested since the beginning of 2022, including two freelance reporters on January 20, a Horn Cable TV reporter on January 12, and a freelance online journalist on January 4. All were freed without charges.
According to the Somali Journalists Syndicate’s report on the state of press freedom in 2021, 65 journalists were arbitrarily detained and seven newsrooms were raided. Two journalists were killed in 2021, according to IPI’s Death Watch.
Somalia is rocked by political instability. The parliamentary elections, now set for February 25, have been long-delayed, and terrorist groups continue to wage deadly attacks.