The two journalists working for local radio station Radio Daljir were arrested after approaching a court in Somalia’s north-eastern region Puntland for a reaction to the case of a woman who had been raped and murdered. Khadar Awl Ismail is the director of Radio Daljir and NUSOJ General Secretary of Information and Human Rights. Abdiqani Ahmed Mohamed works as a reporter and producer at the station.
Radio Daljir had interviewed the victim’s relatives who criticized the court for releasing the accused perpetrators.
On 6 September, Khadar Awl Ismail, Abdiqani Ahmed Mohamed and other local reporters went to the Court of First Instance in Puntland to confront officials with the allegations and ask for a statement. They did not receive an answer but instead, the president of the court ordered their detention.
While police detained him, Ismail spoke to NUSOJ, saying: “The court does not want us to talk about or interview the family of the victim, and all we wanted is to present both sides of the story.”
Both journalists were released on bail on 7 September.
It is not the first time that journalists have been arrested for reporting on a rape case in Somalia. On April 20, police arrested Mukhtar Mohamed Atosh for covering the death of a 14-year old girl after she was raped. He was released on bail after two days in jail.
NUSOJ General Secretary Omar Faruk Osman said: “Our colleagues have been targeted and arrested by the judicial and police authorities due to public interest reporting that they have carried out in good faith. This attack is not only a grave violation of journalists’ rights but also a blatant curtailment of the right to freedom of information.”
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “Khadar Awl Ismail and Abdiqani Ahmed Mohamed did nothing more than following the journalistic principle to investigate a story from different angles. The fact that the court reacted to a request for a statement with an arrest of the journalists is a clear act of intimidation that we firmly condemn. Journalists must be able to report freely on all topics. We demand that all charges against our colleagues are immediately dropped.”