The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has backed calls for the immediate release of a TV reporter arrested covering the armed confrontations between Somaliland and the Puntland region of Somalia.
Mukhtar Abdi Jama, a reporter for SOMNEWS TV, was arbitrarily arrested by Somaliland police on 4 June in Las Anod, Sool on the orders of the Governor Abdi Khayre Dirir, while covering a press conference held by local elders in the Taleh district. The meeting addressed the conflict in Tukaraq, a disputed area between Puntland and Somaliland.
The IFJ supported protests by its affiliate the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemning the arrest and calling for the immediate release of Jama who is currently detained at Las Anod police station and is being denied any visitors.
His arrest comes a week after ten other media workers from SBS and SOMNEWS TV stations fled Sool region for fear of persecution.
“The arrest of Mukhtar Abdi Jama is an additional attack on media freedom to be added to the series of violations against journalists and media outlets in Sool region as part of the crackdown on freedom of the press by Somaliland,” said NUSOJ General Secretary Omar Faruk Osman. “Journalists in Sool are facing the difficult choice of continuing their journalism and putting themselves at risk. We call upon Somaliland authorities to cease their campaign of aggression against defenceless journalists who are justifiably exercising their right to report freely.”
“Mukhtar Abdi Jama’s arbitrary arrest is just one more example of the infringements of journalists’ rights and freedom to report in the region.” said IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger. “Reporters in Sool should not be silenced and should be able to freely exercise their profession. Attacks against journalists represent attacks against the principle of transparency, hence the need to immediately stop such practices.”
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 16
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries