The harassment of independent media in Somaliland must stop, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today stated.
According to IFJ affiliate in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), on April 7 Somaliland police shut down the independent daily newspaper, Haatuf, following a decision by Marodi Jeeh Regional court in Hargeisa. The court accused the newspaper of having published insults, NUSOJ said.
“Authorities in Somaliland must stop the harassment against independent media. They showed a strong determination and will to gag the voice of the voiceless. This is an affront to global free expression,” said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa director.
According to the NUSOJ, the editor of the Haatuf newspaper, Ahmed Ali Igeh, explained that while staff were working in the office, several police officers, led by Commander Mohamed Mohamud, entered. The Commander showed a letter from the court ordering the newspaper to be shut down for allegedly insulted ministers and members of parliament. “We rejected having published insults but factual reports,” editor Ahmed Ali Igeh said.
Police are currently occupying the premises of the newspaper.
“The closure of Haatuf newspaper is another black mark on freedom of the press in Somaliland. It is an attempt to silence the voice of dissent,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. “With Hubaal newspaper still closed and police in their offices, this is a definite deterioration of press freedom,” said Omar Faruk Osman,
It is widely believed that the closure of the newspaper was caused by its coverage of activities by Somaliland ministers. Haatuf recently published critical reports over “alleged corruption” by Somaliland Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Mr Hussein Abdi Duale. The newspaper also published reports concerning recent travel to Kenya by Somaliland Minister of Interior, Ali Mohamed Waran Ade.
IFJ joins its affiliate, NUSOJ, to demand that Somaliland authorities remove police from offices of both Haatuf and Hubaal newspapers, immediately stop judiciary harassment against these newspapers and allow journalists working for independent media to operate without fear of repercussion.