Moderate Islamic group detains journalists in central Somalia

The journalists Abdi Mohamed, correspondent for the Somali National TV, Abdijamal Moalim Ahmed, correspondent for the privately owned Kalsan TV and Bar-kulan radio and Bashiir Mohamoud Salad, correspondent for Horncable TV, Ms. Nafiso Hersi Oogle, director of privately owned radio station based in Dhusamareb and freelances several media stations based in Mogadishu, Abdullahi Farah Roble reporter for the Mogadishu based Kulmiye Radio and Radio Codka Bartamaha and Ms Leylo Nor of Radio Codka Bartamaha were freed on Monday afternoon and their charges were dropped. ------------------------------------ Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the arbitrary detention of a total of six journalists in the central town of Dhusamareb by Alhu Sunna Wal Jama’a, a moderate Islamic Sufi group that controls the region. The arrests of the six journalists were made during a 48-hour period beginning on 31 July. All six were reportedly released on the evening of 2 August but were rearrested the next day (yesterday). Alhu Sunna Wal Jama’a supports the national government and opposes the radical Islamist rebel militia Al-Shabaab. Three journalists were arrested on 31 July. They were Mohamed Abdi Mohamed, a reporter for Somali National TV, Abdijamal Moalim Ahmed, a reporter for privately-owned Kalsan TV and Radio Bar-Kulan, and Bashiir Mohamoud Salad, a reporter for Horncable TV. Two Radio Codka Bartamaha reporters, Abdullahi Farah Roble and Leylo Nor, were arrested the next day. Finally, Radio Codka Bartamaha manager Nafiso Hersi Oogle was arrested on 2 August. According to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), Alhu Sunna Wal Jama’a had ordered all local journalists to “register” by filling out forms provided by the group in which they were required to enter their personal information. When several journalists questioned the impact that the provision of this information could have on their safety, Alhu Sunna Wal Jama’a responded with the wave of arrests, prompting dozens of other journalist to flee the town to avoid the same fate. “We condemn the arbitrary detention of six journalists by the authorities in Dhusamareb and call for their immediate and unconditional release,” Reporters Without Borders editor in chief Virginie Dangles said. “These arrests and acts of intimidation against journalists and media outlets in the region are unacceptable. Alhu Sunna Wal Jama’a is creating a hostile climate for the media, but freedom of information is essential for establishing a democratic society.” This is not the first time that Alhu Sunna Wal Jama’a has harassed the media. According to NUSOJ, the group closed Radio Galgaduud in the nearby town of Guriel on 18 May, arresting deputy manager Abdulkadir Gure and preventing it from broadcasting for a week after he refused to accept the strict regulations it wants to impose on the media. Somali National TV reporter Osman Mohamed Adan was detained the next day and was deported to Mogadishu. Somalia is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, who are arrested, threatened and murdered with complete impunity. Of the 43 murders of journalists reported since 2009, only one led to a conviction. While rebel groups such as Al-Shabaab, which is on the Reporters Without Borders list of Predators of Press Freedom, are responsible for many of the physical attacks against journalists, the government is also guilty of crimes against media personnel. Abuse of authority is common and officials often break Somalia’s laws by closing media arbitrarily and carrying out repeated illegal arrests. Somalia is ranked 172nd out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
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Updated on 20.01.2016