Police forces searched two stations of radio Daljir’s in northeastern Somalia on 14-15 and 16 September. The International Federation of Journalists joins its affiliate the National Union of Somali Journalists ( NUSOJ) in strongly condemning the assaults and calling on Somali authorities to stop intimidating the press.
On 14 September troops raided the building hosting Radio Dajir in Garowe in the northern breakaway state of Puntland at around 1 pm and searched the station’s offices while it was broadcasting live.
Hassan Heykal and Ayanle Abdullahi Jama, two journalists working for Radio Daljir, told NUSOJ that the police had come to arrest the director, following an order by Puntland police chief.
The raid came after Radio Daljir aired interviews and reports this week alleging that the security guards of the head of police tortured and killed a prisoner accused of having links with a terrorist group.
The authorities have not given reason for the raid on the radio station and did not refer the matter to court before acting.
On the following day on 15 September, the police searched the offices of Radio Daljir’ station based in Bossasso at around 8.15 pm, reports NUSOJ, with the aime to arrest Daljir’s managing director Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed. Police forces cordoned off the premises of the radio station for more than 4 hours.
On 16 September, police forces raided again the Bossasso radio station asking journalists to disclose the whereabouts of the managing Director of Daljir Radio. NUSOJ reports they have left the station but are hunting down the managing director to arrest him together with journalists Hassan Heykal and Ayanle Abdullahi Jama.
NUSOJ denounces the use of “excessive force” and “unreasonable assault” against Daljir Radio Station by the Puntland police, saying the raid exposed the police’s total disregard for media freedom and freedom of expression and violated the right of Somalis to receive unfettered information.
“We call on Puntland authorities to stop ruthlessly clamping down press freedom and journalists’ rights who are providing information to the public,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ secretary general. “Such attacks are acts of censorship and an infringement on the freedom of the press and denial of the public’s right of access to information.”
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “We call on Somali authorities to take concrete measures to protect journalists and stop intimidating the press in Puntland. Journalism is not a crime and citizens have the right to know the truth.”
On 3 September, Puntland’s authorities announced the shutdown of Puntland Times, a regional news outlet, giving no justification and taking action before referring the case to justice.