2011 – A worrying year for press freedom in Somaliland
Somaliland: The report of the media abuses in 2011
The Somaliland Journalist Association (SOLJA) has filed over a dozen media abuses by the Government forces and about four cases that the Government filed against the media in the local courts.
This is a review of the events in 2011:
10th December 2011: The Police of Borama town arrested Borama Correspondent of Waaheen Newspaper Ali Ismail Aare and spent 3 days in prison without charge.
27th October 2011: Somaliland Police has beat Mohamed Abdi Kahin known as Bosh, who works for Ramaasnews website and Royal TV, after he took photos to some mothers complaining from the Government.
19th September 2011: police in Hargeisa’s local government beat Mustafe Sheikh Omar Geidi, the Chief Editor of Saxafi Newspaper, after he took photographs of poor people being forcibly removed their settlement.
12th September 2011: Togdher Regional Court released Ahmed Muse Mohamed, of Waaheen Newspaper Togdher, after he spent 7 days in prison without charge.
10th September 2011: the Somaliland’s Special Protection Unit (known as Birmadka) beat and detained Saleban Abdi Ali, a reporter from Waaheen Independent Newspaper while he was covering the power transfer in the Ministry of Interior. Saleban spent ten hours in prison and he was released after the intervention of SOLJA.
7th September 2011: Somaliland’s Ministry of Finance filed a case against Waaheen Newspaper.
5th September 2011: Awdal regional police arrested Ali Ismail Aare, Waaheen Newspaper’s Awdal region correspondent, after he published an article damning the local government of Borama.
22nd August 2011: the Government filed a case against Horn Cable TV in Hargeisa’s regional Court, accusing of interviewing one of the local traditional leaders named Osman Burmadaw, whom the Government regards as a national threat.
15th July 2011: Police in Hargeisa have seriously assaulted and detained Abdi Nuurow Aboore, a cameraman for Horn Cable TV, (Private satellite TV based in Hargeisa) while he was filming an event taking place in Hargeisa.
22nd March 2011: Las Anod Police arrested Mohamed Osman Abdi of Somali Channel Satellite TV Correspondent in Las Anod while he was in his duty.
28th February 2011: The former Chief Judge of Somaliland’s Supreme Court, Mohamed Hirsi Omane, ordered the arrest of Mohamoud Ali Sheikh Mohamed a journalist from Ogal Newspaper when he tried to investigate a complaint against him by locals. The Judge responded by harassing and ordering the arrest of the journalist.
22nd January 2011: Hargeisa Regional Court handed down 6 years imprisonment term to Waaheen Newsaper journalist Mohamoud Abdi Jama and fined him $900.
On 19th September 2011: About 39 journalists working for the government’s Ministry of Information lost their jobs, whilst a further 46 journalists who won the ministry’s examination test have are yet to be paid.
The cases against the Newspapers (printed edition)
December 2010 – January 2011: The former Police Commissioner Elmi Roble Fure and Former Chairman of Hargeisa’s Electricity Agency Eng. Sab’e filed a case against Waaheen, claiming that the Newspaper has falsified a statement issued by the Commissioner about an event of tribal Conflict in Elberdale Farmland, which created insecurity in the areas, while Eng. Saba’e denied accusations of corruption by the paper.
On January 2011: former Chief of Cabinet Hirsi H. Ali filed a case against Hargeisa Star, after the newspaper published a story about the Minister’s mismanagement of travelling fund for the President to UK. The former chief editor of Hargeisa Star, Hassan Mohamed Yusuf was taken into the Criminal Investigation Department on December 2011, where he spent several hours. But was released after the Minister dropped the case.
Early January 2011: The Minister for Civil Aviation Mohamoud Hashi Abdi filed a case against Saxafi Newspaper after it said the minister mismanaged a Kuwaiti donation for the airports. However the Hargeisa Regional Appeal Court found against the newspaper and ordered the former, Abdifatah M. Aidid to pay $700 within 10 days or face imprisonment.
Also cases were filed against the newspapers of Ogaal and Yool. Even though the cases against these two newspapers were not heard before the court, but the chief editor of Yool Newspaper, Mohamed Abdi Urad was called to appear before the Criminal Investigation Department, but the case was dropped.
Due to the above mentioned cases against the independent media of Somaliland, the Somaliland’s Journalist Association SOLJA condemns the harassment, detention and physical agitation against the reporters by the government forces. SOLJA is urging the government of Somaliland to respect the constitutional rights of the independent media and stop these actions against the independent media.
Various human rights organisations have also voiced their concerns: