Somalia: Calls to reverse Somaliland authorities ban on BBC

Calls for a ban on the BBC by the Somaliland authorities to be lifted have increased, amid accusations that the silencing of the broadcaster is part of an “information blackout”. The International Federation of Journalists joins its affiliate, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) in condemning the ban, which undermines media freedom and citizens’ right to freedom of information. 

Logo of the BBC Somali News. Credit: BBC Somali News Facebook

The government of the Somaliland region imposed an indefinite ban on the BBC on 19 July. On July 23, the police raided the BBC Media Action office in the capital, Hargeisa, and briefly detained five journalists. 

Broadcasts of the BBC Somali Service have been off air in the Somaliland region since 19 July, when the Ministry of Information announced its indefinite suspension. According to the official statement, the decision was arrived at because the broadcaster had become “an enemy to the sovereignty and existence of Somaliland”. 

Somaliland authorities have a long-record of media violations, according to the latest Annual Report on the State of the Media in Somalia published by the NUSOJ. 

“The media freedom situation in Somaliland has for some time been under a sustained attack by the very people entrusted with ensuring that citizens enjoy their right to freedom of information,” said NUSOJ Secretary General, Omar Faruk Osman. “Somaliland has put local media under siege and has now moved to impose an information blackout over the region,” he added. 

IFJ Secretary General Anthony Bellanger said:“We condemn all attempts to crack down on media freedom by the Somaliland authorities. The ban on the BBC is the latest shameful episode in a long list. We call on the government to respect independent journalism and citizens’ right to freedom of information”.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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