IFJ Condemns Latest Press Freedom Violations in Somalia

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the latest attacks on media in Somalia, which included the closure of a radio station, the burning of newspapers and barring journalists from entering Somaliland.

On Sunday 15 October, the Islamic Courts Council (ICC) shut down the radio station East Africa Radio in Mogadishu. According to the head of the ICC information office, Sheik Abdirahim Ali Mudey, the station was closed because of “misinformation and faults.” He added that the ICC will appoint a new administration and workers for the radio station.

The East Africa Radio was owned by businessman Bashir Rage Shirar, allegedly one of the warlords defeated by the ICC in June. Shirar has been in exile since then.

“We condemn the closure of East Africa Radio,” said Gabriel Baglo Director of the IFJ Africa Office. “We urge the Islamic Courts Council to reopen the radio and let the original employees work safely and freely.”

On Saturday, 18 journalists from south-central Somalia and Puntland were detained for three hours at Egal Airport in Hargeisa, Somaliland, by immigration officers. The Somaliland authorities said they were not informed of the arrival of the journalists. The journalists were invited to a media workshop organised by UNICEF and WHO. The journalists were later allowed to enter Hargeisa, thanks to the intervention of the Somaliland Journalists Association (SOLJA).

The day before, an angry mob in the town of Buro in Somaliland burned more than a thousand copies of Haatuf newspaper for being critical of the ICC. The newspaper also received many phone calls from people threatening to burn down the newspaper's offices in Hargeisa.

"We denounce the burning of Haatuf newspapers as a deliberate destruction of the newspaper's property and the refutation of open criticism" said Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).

Tensions have been mounting in recent weeks in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland (northwest Somalia) as Islamist Courts have threatened to attack it.

“We protest against the threats on Haatuf and the burning of the copies of the newspaper,” the IFJ’s Baglo said. “We call on the authorities of Somaliland to take strong measures to ensure this kind of press freedom violation does not happen again and to make sure that journalists can travel freely for their work.”

For further information contact the IFJ: +221 842 01 43
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries