Journalist shot dead in Mogadishu as media violations also take place in Puntland, Somaliland

Expression

Somalia is ranked 167th out of 180 countries in the Reporters without Borders 2016 World Press Freedom Index. It continues to be one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, who face targeted attacks from both the state and Al Shabaab militia. On 6th June, Sagal Salad Osman, a producer and presenter for state-owned Radio Mogadishu, was shot by unknown gunmen in Hodan district, Mogadishu. She  later died of her injuries. 

On 9th July, security forces shut down City FM in Jowhar district, Middle Shabelle region and arrested two journalists, Abdishakur Abdullahi Ahmed and Abdirahman Hussein Omar Wadani. The two journalists were allegedly  arrested for broadcasting an interview during which the regional administration was accused of the misappropriation of food aid.

Puntland

Puntland declared itself an autonomous state in August 1998 but considers itself part of Federal Somalia. Although the region enjoys relative peace and stability, authorities make a concerted effort to restrict freedom of expression and journalists must seek accreditation with the Ministry of Information to carry out their work. In a letter dated 9th July, the Information Minister Mohamud Hassan So’ade  instructed Puntland media outlets to send a list containing in-service journalists to the Ministry for accreditation not later than 25th July. There is no legal justification for the Minister’s action. On 23th June, Puntland Police shut down Daljir FM radio stations in Garowe and Bosaso and confiscated their equipment. The Ministry of Information issued a directive restricting journalists from interviewing persons linked to pirates and terrorists. In an audio recording, the Minister of Information threatened to use force and to kill journalists who violate the order.

Somaliland

Somaliland is a break-away territory that declared its independence in 1991. Although not internationally recognised, Somaliland has its own government institutions, police force and currency. Similar to Puntland, it enjoys relative peace and stability although journalists are often targeted because of their work. On 17th July, the trial of Ibrahim Osman Ahmed, editor of the Hangoolnews website, began in Hargeisa. He is charged with 'publication of false news, false-accusation and defamation' because of articles he published criticising the management of the local airport and a senior official in the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Local rights groups have called for his release and labelled prosecution 'unacceptable and unconstitutional'. Between 25th and 26th May,  three journalists Abdirahman Mohamed Egeh, Ahmed Saed Mohamed and Mubarig Osman Saed were arrested for publishing articles on the agreement signed between Somaliland and DP World, a United Arab Emirates company on the rehabilitation of Berbera port. They were arrested on the orders of the Mayor of Berbera who had earlier warned journalists at a meeting where Councillor Suleiman Ali Khayre, a member of the local government, said he still needed to assess whether the agreement with DR World was in the interests of the district and the region. The mayor warned journalists present not to publish any of the Councillor’s remarks and that they would face arrest if they did. The journalists were later released on 26th May.

Association

On 16 May, the Minister of Justice of Somaliland signed a letter to the Chief Justice asking him to revoke the license of Guleid Ahmed Jama, a human rights lawyer and Chairperson of the Human Rights Center. The Minister accused Guleid of committing a violation by being both a lawyer and chairperson of a human rights organisation. According to Somaliland law only, the Advocates Licensing and Disciplining Commission can revoke a lawyer’s license after a thorough investigation is conducted and a fair hearing has taken place. The Chief Justice overturned the decision in a letter dated 11th June and Mr. Guleid’s license was reinstated.