IFJ Urges Somaliland Authorities To Protect Journalists Fleeing Mogadishu Violence

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today urged Somaliland authorities to withdraw their decision to expel 24 Somali journalists who fled the violence in Mogadishu over allegations that they are endangering the "security and stability” of the region.

“Before this incident Somaliland has had a reputation as a place that would offer safety to journalists who are harassed and threatened in Somalia,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. “This decision is a great step backwards for Somaliland and we call on the authorities to withdraw this unfortunate decision.”

This order to expel threatened journalists comes as Somalia’s National Security Committee, a body of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), restricted media coverage of the conflict between the government and Islamist insurgents.

Early on Monday the Somaliland Police Chief General Mohammed Saqadhi Dubad and the head of Criminal Investigations Department (CID) General Ahmed Ali Shabel went to a house in the town of Hargeisa where 24 journalists from Mogadishu have been living and ordered them to leave Somaliland within 24 hours. According to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) the Somaliland authorities accused the journalists of endangering the “security and stability of Somaliland.”

The police chief told the journalists authorities would take them to court if they don't respect this order.

"It is really outrageous to say these journalists who sought protection are endangering Somaliland security and stability, and we attest that they have not done or intend to do anything that can endanger the security and stability of Somaliland," said Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary General of NUSOJ.

NUSOJ in collaboration with the Somaliland Journalists Association established the house in Hargeisa to offer a haven to journalists fleeing the fighting in Mogadishu.

This year has been an extremely dangerous one for Somali journalists. Seven journalists and news professionals have been killed in Somalia this year alone, four of them in Mogadishu. Others have been arrested, tortured and threatened. Three media institutions are still closed nearly a month after they were shut down by authorities.

The IFJ fears that the new media restrictions will make it even more dangerous for journalists to work in Mogadishu. The TFG’s decree says that no journalist or radio station in Mogadishu can report on the military operations in Mogadishu. It also forbids journalists from interviewing leaders of the Islamic Courts or opposition leaders. The ban covers all Somali media as well as foreign journalists who are in the country.

The IFJ is urging the TFG to lift the ban immediately.

For more information contact the IFJ at + 221 33 842 01 43

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide