Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the latest violations of freedom of information by Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), which in the past week has arrested three journalists and deleted the recordings made by reporters at a news conference.
The latest victim was Ahmed Omar Ahmed of Radio Shabelle who was detained yesterday when about to attend a ceremony at the Mogadishu police academy and was taken to Hamar Jajab police station, where he was not told the reason for his arrest. It came just three days after NISA officers arrested Abdukar Mohamed Ali of Star FM and freelance journalist Abdirisak Omar Ahmed in a Mogadishu café on 17 December. Ali was released the next day but Ahmed is still being held, without having been brought before a judge. Journalists attending a news conference last week about the 2016 presidential election suddenly had all of their equipment seized on the orders of Gen. Adurahman Mohamed Tuuryare, the head of the NISA. All video and audio recordings were deleted before the equipment was returned. “We call on the Somali authorities to respect media freedom, which is guaranteed by their constitution, and to stop harassing journalists,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “Journalists are one of the keystones of democracy and will have to play a major role providing the public with information ahead of the 2016 elections. It is essential that they should be able to work freely.” The Somali authorities often harass privately-owned media outlets. Radio Shabelle, which received RSF’s Press Freedom Prize in 2010, is an especially frequent target. It was closed twice in 2013 and 2014 and its journalists are often arrested. Somalia is ranked 172nd out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.