August 8, 2017

Journalist held illegally in Puntland

Garowe prison in Puntland, December 2014. Photo: MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB / AFP
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns journalist Omar Ali Hassan’s arbitrary detention by the police in the self-proclaimed autonomous state of Puntland, in northeastern Somalia, and calls for his immediate release.

Also known as Omar Dheere, Omar Ali Hassan was arrested for no apparent reason in Garowe, Puntland’s capital, on 6 August and is being held in a prison in the southern part of the city without being charged.

A reporter for the Horseed Media news website and member of the Media Association of Puntland, he had posted comments critical of Puntland’s president and parliament on social networks shortly before his arrest.

“We firmly condemn the arbitrary arrest and continuing detention of Omar Ali Hassan, who just did his job as a journalist, and we call on the authorities to free him at once as no formal charge has been brought against him,” said Clea Kahn-Sriber, the head of RSF’s Africa desk.

Puntland has acquired its own institutions since declaring its autonomy in 1998 and its 2012 constitution guarantees media freedom, but RSF has noted frequent media closures and abuses against journalists, who are subjected to intimidation by government officials with complete impunity.

Somalia is ranked 167th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.