October 23, 2015 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Investigative reporter beaten up in Somaliland

Investigative journalist Ahmed Muuse Sakaaro was badly beaten on the morning of Wednesday 21 October in Somalia’s breakaway northwestern territory of Somaliland, by unidentified assailants who objected to his coverage of Somaliland’s government. Sakaaro, who edits the Voice of the People Magazine and is deputy chair of the Somaliland Journalists’ Association, was hospitalized with a broken nose and broken ribs after being attacked outside the magazine’s office. His assailants asked him to explain why he was so critical of Burao city mayor Mohamed Murad. Interviewed in hospital by the Somaliland Informer online newspaper, Sakaaro said he had been getting threatening phone calls for the past six months in which he was told to stop being so critical of Somaliland’s ruling Kulmiye party. Sakaaro referred to last month’s attack on a fellow reporter in Hargeisa by a mob that accused him of asking presidency minister Hersi Ali tough questions. “After the Hargeisa reporter incident, I felt it was not safe to ignore such threats and I reported them to security forces but they did absolutely nothing,” he said. “It is outrageous that the authorities did nothing to protect Sakaaro after he went to see them,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk. “Somaliland must accept its responsibilities and ensure that the press freedom guaranteed in its constitution is respected even when journalists dare criticize senior officials. We call on the Somaliland authorities to launch an immediate investigation with the aim of identifying those responsible for the attack on Sakaaro and bringing them to trial.” Sakaaro has pledged to continue his work as an investigative reporter. Nothing would stop him, he said. Somaliland declared its independence of Somalia in 1991. Although not recognized by the international community as an independent state, it has its own government and constitution, article 32 of which recognize media freedom. Conditions for journalists are nonetheless dangerous. They often threatened and are treated arbitrarily by the authorities.