IFJ Condemns Government Closure of Three Radio Stations, Al Jazeera in Somalia

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the Somali government’s recent attacks on media after it shut down three radio stations and the Al Jazeera TV office in Mogadishu two days after declaring a state of emergency.

These latest closures follow the closure of two radio stations in Baidoa earlier this month.

A decree issued today by Somalia's National Security Agency (NSA), the security department of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), ordered Radio Shabelle, Radio Voice of Holy Quran and Radio HornAfrik to stop broadcasting operations. The NSA also stopped the operations of the Mogadishu office of Al Jazeera Television. According to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) the government gave no reason for the closure.

“We condemn this unacceptable violation of press freedom,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa Office. “Shutting down private media houses is the worst way to reconcile the Somali people and to bring the country out of these long periods of chaos, which are among the priorities of the Transitional Government agenda.”

The IFJ called on the government to reopen the broadcasters immediately and to make sure journalist can work freely in Mogadishu and the rest of the country.

The government’s decree also ordered the directors of the closed radio stations and Al Jazeera to appear before the NSA tomorrow.

“The State of Emergency declared on 13 January 2007 must not be used as an excuse to suppress the freedom of media and if this is what a state of emergency means, then it completely undermines the democratic values that the TFG has been proclaiming,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ’s Secretary General.

Early this month, on 1 January the journalist Hassan Mohammed Abikar of Mogadishu-based Radio Voice of Holy Quran in Baidoa was arrested by the government forces. A few days later, the TFG shut down Radio Warsan and Radio Baidoa in Baidoa, the temporary seat of the government.

“We are worried about this wave of repression of the government and call for the African Union to take strong measures to insure press freedom is respected in Somalia,” the IFJ’s Baglo said.

For further information contact the IFJ: +221 842 01 43

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries