Journalists Denied Free Access to Information in Somalia

Press release from the Somali Journalists Network (SOJON)

The Somali Journalists Network is announcing that the existing working circumstances of reporters in Somalia's capital Mogadishu are deteriorating after harassment and intimidation for their work as journalists and threats against their basic rights to free expression.

On the 18th of March 2004, two journalists from Idaacadda Qur’anka Kariimka (IQK) (Holly Qoran Radio) in north Mogadishu were refused entry to report on a closing ceremony of a seminar being held by the Mogadishu police force at the Police School, which was officially brought to a close by the President of the Transitional National Government of Somalia (TNG), Dr. Abdulkassim Salad Hassan.

The acting Governor of Banadir Region, Mr. Abdullahi Hassan Ganey (Firimbi), ordered the police to remove the reporters, Mr. Hassan Haji (Hanafi) and Mohammed Sheik Nur (Sheekha), from the school.

The journalists left the ceremony for personal security reasons and to inform their station the of the change to their assignment.

Although the reasons behind their entry-refusal is unknown, sources point to the fact that the Banadir Region representatives looked on the IQK’s journalistic duties as "unfavourable" to their administration.

According to witnesses, the police threatened to dispose of Mr. Hanafi if he didn't agree to leave the premises, and Mr. Sheekha was pulled inside the hall by two members of the armed forces, while attempting to cover the event.

Aside from the 'free militias', different sections of the Somali administrative powers have been trying to pressurize and harass journalists working for both public and private media companies.

These latest actions represent the fourth case against independent journalists and continued violations of freedom of information in Somalia in 2004. “This is depressing news particularly considering that it comes only 35 days after the Minister for Information declared the transitional government's resounding support and respect for press freedom,” said Omar Faruk Osman, SOJON Secretary General.

For further information:
Omar Faruk Osman
Secretary General
Somali Journalists Network (SOJON)
Email: Omar Faruk