Three journalists arbitrarily arrested in Somaliland and Puntland
In the span of five weeks, three journalists were arrested in Puntland and Somaliland. The arbitrary arrests were made in response to the journalists' investigative and critical reporting of the government and its officials' actions.
Journalist and founder of Puntlandone.com Ahmed Ali Kilwe was arrested by security forces in Garowe, the administrative capital of Puntland, on 2nd July 2017. His arrest is connected to a Facebook post he wrote on 23rd June, criticising the president of Puntland, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, and his use of public funds. According to the Media Association of Puntland, who spoke with officials, counter terrorism police arrested Ali Kilwe by order of the president for allegedly "posting articles impertinent to the Puntland President". Ali Kilwe was later released on 16th July.
On 6th August 2017 Omar Saeed Mohammed, a journalist for the news website Horseed Media and the privately-owned Somali Cable TV channel, was arrested by security forces in Garowe. He was held incommunicado until his release on bail on 12th August 2017.The police refused to give the grounds for the arrest, but staff at Horseed Media, believe the arrest might be linked to a Facebook post Omar wrote on the alleged involvement of the Puntland president in a counterfeit money-printing scam.
Goobjoog Media journalist Omar Ali Hassan Serbiya was arrested on 8th July 2017 at Egal Airport in Hargeisa, Somaliland, after arriving from Mogadishu where he is based. The journalist was held in an undisclosed location, without officially being charged. Somaliland's Interior Minister Yasin Mohamud said that the arrest was in response to views he had expressed on social media that purportedly threatened the "security and stability" of Somaliland. The authorities released the journalist on 11th July.
According to information from the Human Rights Centre Somaliland, on 6th July 2017 the court suspended five websites in accordance with an order signed by the chairman of Hargeisa Regional Court. The following websites were shut down: (1) karinnews.com, (2) baraarugnews.com, (3) saylactoday.com, (4) haleelews.com, and (5) suradnews.com. According to the order, the Criminal Investigation Department and Hargeisa Regional Office of the Attorney General requested the suspension of the websites for publishing “false news against the clans that live together in the Republic of Somaliland [and] propaganda against the officials of the State of the Republic of Somaliland”. The suspended websites were neither informed of the charges nor given the opportunity to defend themselves.