Press Release 14/4/
In the afternoon of April 13th, there were gunshots heard at the Hargeisa Central Prison, confirming a scuffle between the inmates and guards, leading to retaliation from Somaliland police forces. In retaliation, Somaliland police arrested several journalists covering the breaking news at the prison. According to information collected and update, HRC can confirm the arrests of 12 journalists arrested and detained, although there are still unconfirmed numbers higher than the 12 journalists currently known to be detained.
Free and independent media is at the foundation of a functioning and free democracy and is a crucial indicator of a country’s democracy. Without a free press, one cannot have and maintain informed citizens. Journalists need to have the ability to inform the public, without pressure and harassment, the decision-making policies of the government, communicating the needs of constituents to government bodies to hold governments accountable, displaying transparency within institutions and the decisions taken by officials. When free press is restricted or limited, as we have seen in the past months in Somaliland, incidents such as yesterday’s events involving journalist will continue to happen and further erode the vital functions of the government, thus leading to the trajectory of dictatorial tendencies that we have seen. Without the ability of granting journalists free reign, other issues will arise, such as the self-censorship we’ve noticed as a trend here in Somaliland. Free press and journalism are also a core value of protecting human rights overall.
It is unfortunate that we continue to see an erosion on fundamental values such as free press, as guaranteed and upheld by the constitution of Somaliland and treaties around the globe. At HRC, our work is to advocate for protecting and promoting human rights, where the supreme law of the land is enacted upon and implemented properly, which includes a free press and journalism. Journalists are a core value to our society and should be allowed to report, investigate, and inform the public of the decision-making of the country, without fear and intimidation. Journalism is a right that is enshrined in the constitution of Somaliland, as stipulated by article 32(3) “The press and other media are part of the fundamental freedoms of expression and are independent. All acts to subjugate them are prohibited, and a law shall determine their regulation.” While the constitution clearly states the rights of a free press, yesterday’s events saw several journalists arrested, of the twelve we have a knowledge of, 2 were detained and released shortly after. Their names are Mohammed Abdi Sheik Illig, Hassan Saleeban Haroon Gallaydh, Sagal Mustafe Hassan Nur, Nicimo Abdi, Ahmed Mohammed, Caydaruus Mohammed, Ahmed Shimaali, Mohammed Faan, Ahmed Samrawi, Khalid Aleeli, Abdijabir Mohammed, and Mohameed Suldaan. Of the journalists mentioned, we can report that Ahmed Shimaali was arrested and injured in his detainment. Nimco Abdi and Sagal Mustafe were the two individuals that were detained and released shortly after. These journalists are affiliated with MM-TV, Horn Cable TV, Goobjoog, Saab TV, Bulsho TV, and HCTV.
HRC is requesting and remind Somaliland Police to honor their actions as the duty bearers of the country, immediately release the journalists, and prevent the erosion of a fundamental right in Somaliland.
Yasmin Omar Haji Mohamoud
The Chairperson of Human Rights Centre