Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) welcomes with concern today’s decision by Somaliland authorities to allow Horyaal 24 TV and Eryal TV, both privately-owned stations, to resume operations in Somaliland, while the authorities imposed new conditions meant to restrict the critical reporting of the media.
Somaliland’s security forces on 18 June, 2019 raided the headquarters of Horyaal 24 TV and Eryal TV and forced both TV stations to stop operating indefinitely.
On Sunday 30 June, 2019, Somaliland’s Information Minister, Mohamed Muse Dirie met with representatives from the independent media houses including Horyaal 24 TV and Eryal TV where the minister informed the media representatives about the resumption of the TV stations along with the new conditions, according to Mohamed Aw-Adan, the Deputy Chairperson of Horyaal 24 TV who attended the meeting.
“During the meeting, the minister read a decree to ban any critical news about the security forces or deemed to be critical to Somaliland nationhood. We were also ordered to refer Somaliland as a republic in our news coverage,” Mohamed Aw-Adan of Horyaal 24 TV told SJS.
About 11 TV stations signed the order while three stations refused to sign, according to Abdirahman Abdillahi, the editor of Eryal TV who attended the Sunday’s meeting with Ministry of Information and spoke to SJS over the phone.
“We are still looking into how these orders will affect our editorial independence but we are quite worried that certain parts of the order are not clear,” Abdirahman Abdillahi or Eryal TV added.
The Editor-in-Chief of Horyaal 24 TV, Said Farah Muse Cagjar who also spoke to SJS over the phone said the new orders also instruct the independent media house to separate the local Somaliland related news and other local news from the wider Somalia during their news hours bulletins while they were also told not to broadcast any news reports and interviews criticizing the government or the security forces.
“The orders include a paragraph which orders editors to put Somaliland related news forward from any other news items without considering our editorial guidelines,” Horyaal 24 TV Editor-in-Chief Cagjar added.
While we welcome the order by the Somaliland authorities to lift the suspension from Horyaal 24 TV and Eryal TV, we are also concerned about the new restrictions imposed on the independent media, which might possibly result the independent media to self censor over important and critical reports.
“We welcome to hear the news that Horyaal 24 TV and Eryal TV were allowed to resume operations,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, Secretary General of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said, “We are also concerned about the new restrictions imposed on the independent media, which is a total violation against the Somaliland Constitution, which guarantees the independence of the press.”
Somali Journalists Syndicate calls Somaliland authorities to lift the restrictions imposed on the media which curtails the freedom of the press and the independence of the news media editors.
“To put pressure on the independent media with the aim of altering and suppressing their news content is an offensive and cannot be accepted,” adds SJS Secretary General, Mr. Mumin.
Meanwhile, Marodi-Jeh Regional Court in Hargeisa is expected to sit on Thursday 4 July, 2019 for another hearing of the case against journalist and activist Abdimalik Muse Oldon after the court adjourned its hearing scheduled for Saturday 29 June.
On 24 June, 2019, Somaliland’s Ministry of information issued a decree ordering three major local cable television providers to delist Horyaal TV, Eryal TV and the Somali National Television (SNTV) from their channels in a bit to sanction the viewers of the TV stations.