IFJ Calls on African Union to Protect Somali Journalists after Beating of Four Reporters

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the African Union (AU) to protect journalists in Somalia after the recent beating of four reporters by soldiers.

Another reporter is being held by pro-government forces.

“We condemn these attacks on the journalists and call for the immediate release of our colleague who is still being detained,” said Gabriel Baglo Director of the IFJ Africa Office. “We call on African Union President John Kuffor, and AU Commission President Alpha Konaré to put pressure on the Somali government so that their troops stop targeting journalists.”

Ibraahim Ruush, Ismaciil Cali Cabdi and Max'ed Ibraahim Raage, three reporters working for private media group Shabelle Media Network (SMN), were beaten and briefly detained earlier today by Ethiopian troops based in the southern part of Mogadishu. The team was reporting on an attack on the base last night. The Ethiopian troops forced the three journalists to lie on the ground, seized their recording materials and beat them. They were released after an hour.

On Sunday Abdirahman Aladalla, another SMN journalist, was beaten and detained by Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers in Darmoley, 15 km south of Mogadishu. According to an SMN report, the soldiers asked Aladalla if he was an Islamist or Al-Qaeda member. The journalist was released after about three hours with injuries to one arm.

On Saturday Hassan Sadeh Dhaqane, a journalist working with the private radio station HornAfrik Radio, was arrested in Mogadishu and is still being detained. According to the Associated Somali Journalists, the journalist was reporting on an attack on the African Union troops at the Mogadishu airport.

The IFJ is calling on AU troops and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to protect journalists in Somalia and allow them to work freely. Ethiopian troops helped the TFG to oust the Union of Islamic Courts from Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia in late December 2006. They are still in the country supporting the TFG.

“We are worried that some pro-government forces are treating journalists like their enemies,” said Gabriel Baglo. “We are calling on the TFG to allow independent journalists to work independently without fear for their safety or liberty.”

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

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