September 24, 2019

Somalia : Puntland’s independent journalists are all under threat, RSF says

Radio Daljir crew in 2016. Photo :
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the increase in harassment and intimidation of independent media and journalists in Somalia’s semi-autonomous northeastern region of Puntland.

Journalists fear they could lose their accreditation in the coming weeks after Puntland information minister Ali Hassan Ahmed, also known as “Sabareey,” announced on 22 September that privately-owned media will have to register with his ministry by 15 October so that it can “monitor their daily activity.”  The minister also warned that the accreditations of journalists or media outlets could be “revoked” if the ministry decided they were acting unprofessionally.


His announcement came just eight days after the police raided Radio Daljir, Puntland’s leading independent radio station, on 14 September and briefly arrested one of its journalists, Hasan Heykal.


Radio Daljir director Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed, also known as “Tallman,” told RSF that the police call him every day to threaten him with arrest. In early September, the radio station reported the death of a detainee who had been tortured during interrogation by the police in Puntland’s port city of Bosaso.


“This series of acts of intimidation shows that all independent journalists are threatened in Puntland,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “We urge the authorities to end this harassment and to abandon their plan to vet journalists with the sole aim of silencing those who fully perform their fourth estate role of providing the public with the news they need to know.”


Puntland’s information minister had already ordered the closure of the news website on 3 September after it covered a demonstration by ministry employees demanding back pay.


Somalia is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.