Somaliland police arrest Eryal TV journalists filming corruption story

People take part in celebrations of the 27th anniversary of self-declared independence of Somaliland in Hargeisa, northwestern Somalia, on May 15, 2018, three days ahead of the actual day, 18, before starting the holy fasting month of Ramadan. - Somaliland declared its independent from the rest of the country after the civil war in 1991. (Photo by Mustafa Saeed / AFP)


On July 30, 2019, police in the breakaway region of Somaliland arrested four journalists from privately owned Eryal TV, according to statements issued by the press rights group Somaliland Journalists Association (SOLJA) and the non-governmental organization Human Rights Centre-Somaliland.

At the time of the arrest, Eryal TV director Badri Kozar Mohamoud, head of news Abdirahman Abdilahi (also known as Fantastic), reporter Aydarus Mohamed Abdi, and cameraman Kamal Khalif Abdi were at Hargeisa University in the capital, Hargeisa, filming students who were complaining about corruption in the National Service, a government job-creation program, according to the SOLJA statement and Yasmin Omar H Mohmoud, the chairperson of the Human Rights Centre, who spoke to CPJ. All the journalists except Badri were released unconditionally after a few hours in detention, according to the same sources. Police claimed that they were holding Badri for further investigations but released him on July 31, according to Yahye Mohamed, executive director of SOLJA, who also spoke to CPJ. Yasmin told CPJ that the police forced the journalists to delete their footage of the university students and warned them against reporting similar stories.

CPJ called Somaliland police commissioner Abdillahi Fadal Iman on August 6 but no one answered; on August 9, his phone was off.

Somaliland has become a difficult environment for journalists, and CPJ has documented the use of arrests and media suspensions to silence journalists. In June the government issued indefinite bans against Eryal TV and another privately owned station, Horyal TV, on allegations of threatening national security, as CPJ documented. However, the bans were lifted on June 30, according to a statement issued by the media rights group the Somali Journalists Syndicate.



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