IFJ Urges Somali Government to Stop Media Harassment after Closure of TV Office, Threats to Other Media

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today urged the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to stop harassing media after it recently forced Al Jazeera TV to close its office in Mogadishu, threatened to shut down two private radio stations, and held two media workers in custody for three days.

“We urge the Transitional Government to immediately put to an end this media harassment,” said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Office Director. “This move to control the media is an unacceptable press freedom violation and we call on the government to let the media in Somalia work in total independence and safety.”

On 22 March, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) ordered Al Jazeera and two local private radio stations, Shabelle Radio and Horn Afrik Radio, to stop broadcasting from the country's capital.

According to reports, a government spokesman accused the broadcasters of “misinforming about the reality in Somalia". Al Jazeera TV has closed its office in Mogadishu but the two local radio stations are still on the air.

The Information Minister of the TFG, Madowe Nunow, quoted in a March 24 report of Shabelle Radio, said that he was not aware of a government order to close down the broadcasters.

According to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), in the same week, Bashir Sheik Abdirahman Mohammed, a journalist working for Shabelle Radio, and Osman Qoryoley, his driver, were detained for three days. They were arrested on 21 March on their way to the Mogadishu airport to attend a press conference given by the Prime Minister. No reason was given for their arrest.

From 10 to 12 March, five reporters were arbitrarily arrested and some were beaten by pro-governmental forces.

On 15 January, the TFG shut down three radio stations and the Al Jazeera TV office in Mogadishu two days after declaring a state of emergency for allegedly biased reports.

A few days before, on 11 January, the TFG shut down Radio Warsan in Baidoa, its temporary seat.

Last year, in June, the Baidoa sub-division of Radio Shabelle was also shut down. A Shabelle female journalist was violently beaten and banned from workers as a journalist in Baidoa.

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

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries