June 27, 2016 - Updated on June 30, 2016

Somalia: Puntland’s leading news radio closed

Mohamud Hassan Soadde, Minister of information of Puntland
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is alarmed by the closure of Radio Daljir, the leading news radio station in Somalia’s autonomous northeastern region of Puntland.

Heavily-armed police units closed the station’s studios in Galkayio, Garowe and Bosaso, Puntland’s three biggest cities, on 23 June. The police had a closure order issued by Puntland’s police chief but no official reason has been given.

Radio Daljir’sRadio Daljir’s director said the closure was triggered by an interview broadcast the week before in which former Bari province governor Abdisama Gallanin talked of overthrowing the current governor. Puntland information minister Mohamoud Hassan Soadde called the radio station after the interview and threatened it with violent reprisals.

Tension has been mounting of late for Puntland’s media. A few days before the closure, the information minister sent a directive to media outlets banning them from interviewing opposition politicians that he qualified as"pirates and Islamic terrorists.” Media that do not comply will pay the consequences, he said, adding: “If you will not [...] respect the law, we will use the barrel of the gun against you to remove your eyes.”

Puntland’s journalists have let it be known they will not submit to such threats. They think the pressure is designed to intimidate the media and that it is linked to the legislative elections scheduled for August, which will be the first since 1967.

“Such threats against journalists are intolerable,” RSF said. “The attitude of Puntland’s authorities is a direct violation of the region’s constitution, which guarantees freedom of the media and expression. We call on Puntland’s government to stop threatening journalists and to let Radio Daljir reopen at once.”

The Somali Media association (SOMA), the Somali Independent Media House Association and the National Union of Somali Journalists presided by Mohammed Ibrahim (NUSOJ) have all condemned Radio Dajlir’s closure.

Crimes of violence against journalists usually go unpunished in Somalia, which is ranked 167th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.