Somali journalist kidnapped and tortured, impunity continues

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns TV journalist Hanad Ali Guled’s abduction last weekend in Mogadishu and urges the authorities to shed light on this latest case of violence against media personnel.

Guled, who works for privately-owned Goobjoog Television, was kidnapped from near his home by masked gunmen on 2 April and was found the next day in a field 30 km south of Mogadishu, bearing the marks of torture and unable to talk.

Shortly before his abduction, Guled received threats in connection with Media for Aid, a programme he recently co-founded with the aim of providing information to rural residents hit by a drought.

Violence against media personnel is unfortunately only too common in Somalia. Abdihamid Mohamed Osman, a Universal TV technician also known as Karazai, narrowly escaped being killed by the explosion of a bomb placed under his car in the Mogadishu district of Hamarwayne on 12 March.

The deputy police chief, Gen. Mohamed Sheikh Hassan, told RSF that the Criminal Investigation Division was investigating both cases and would soon report its findings.

In reality, the investigations into attacks of this kind almost never lead to the identification of those responsible, and it is this impunity that encourages more violence against journalists.

Journalists often targeted by the authorities

Aside from violence by individuals or armed groups such as Al-Shabaab, the Somali authorities themselves are often responsible for violating media freedom under various pretexts.

Universal TV, for example, has been banned in the northeastern region of Puntland since 5 March for allegedly broadcasting false information. Abdullah Warsame Roble of Radio Kulmiye / Galgaduud Radio, has been held in the centre of the country since 31 March for posting articles on Facebook criticizing the local administration.

Freelance journalist and blogger AbdulMalik Muse Oldon was arrested at Hargeisa airport, in the northwestern region of Somaliland, on 16 February after being accused of anti-national activity and publishing false news capable of disturbing public order.

“We urge the Somali authorities to do everything possible to ensure the effectiveness of the investigations under way into Hanad Ali Guled’s abduction and into all the other grave events targeting journalists in recent weeks,” RSF said.

“We also urge the relevant authorities to free imprisoned journalists. It is the job of those in authority to protect journalists in their work, not to be their jailers. And protecting journalists includes combatting impunity for acts of violence against them.

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has also voiced its concern about the many attacks on journalists and the lack of tangible results in the investigations by the security agencies.

Somalia is ranked 167th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 10.04.2017