The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today has condemned the official ban on a private TV station in Somaliland.
According to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), an IFJ affiliate, Somaliland Minister of Information, Culture and National Guidance, Mr. Abdullahi Mohamed Dahir (Ukuse) announced on Feb.3 that the operating license of Universal TV is revoked because the station used to transmit “scandals” and “insults” against Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud.
“The reason is not fully documented and proved. We call on authorities in Somaliland to lift the ban on the station as it has only given the opportunity to citizens to express themselves on the way their country is managed. This is not an insult”, said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa director.
Privately-owned Universal TV is based in London but has signals in Somaliland. IFJ joins its affiliate NUSOJ to claim that this is an attempt to stifle free media.
“This action was taken without warning and shows an extraordinary intolerance on the part of Somaliland's authorities. We urge the authorities to uphold freedom for the media to report the main stories taking place in Somaliland and to lift the ban immediately," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
Minister Abdullahi Mohamed Dahir (Ukuse) asserted that they would take legal action against the owner of Universal TV, Engineer Ahmed Abubakar, and the TV station for broadcasting “slanderous” programmes. “They violated the terms and conditions [under] which they were allowed to operate in Somaliland,” said Ukuse.
Ukuse alleged in a press conference that the Somali Federal Government is using Universal TV as a “proxy war” against the Somaliland leadership. The Somali government “corrupted” Universal TV by giving the TV station a piece of land in Mogadishu, and in turn the TV is broadcasting “derogatory information against Somaliland”, as said by Ukuse. The management of Universal TV strongly rejected these claims.
"This ban reveals again just how unstable free expression is in Somaliland," said Osman. "This TV channel may not be to the taste of people in power, but it should be allowed to work in Somaliland”.
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The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries