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NUSOJ condemns suspension of three VOA journalists

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) strongly condemns the suspension from work of three journalists who are reporters for the Voice of America (VOA) Somali Service in the Puntland region of northeastern Somalia.

In a letter issued by the office of the Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Culture of the Puntland State of Somalia, the ministry "suspended the journalistic work of the VOA reporters in Puntland."

The journalists whose work was suspended are Nuh Muse Birjeb, the VOA Somali Service correspondent in Garowe, Mohamed Yasin Isak, the VOA Somali Service correspondent in Galkayo, and Abdulkadir Mohamed Nunow, the VOA Somali Service correspondent in Bossasso.

Although the letter, of which NUSOJ has received a copy, did not state the reason behind the suspension, reliable sources confirmed that the journalists were barred from work following an interview the VOA Somali Service aired on 30 September 2009. The individual interviewed was a man who claimed he was the chairman of the Ahlu-Sunnah Waljamaca group, which the Puntland authorities view as rivals in the power play.

"The suspension is an unjustified and deliberate suppression of independent reporting. The letter contravenes the constitution of Puntland and the Transitional Federal Charter of Somalia, which Puntland recognizes. This is a gross violation of media freedom and freedom of expression," said NUSOJ secretary general Omar Faruk Osman.

The letter, which was addressed to the suspended journalists and copied to the head of the VOA Somali service and the Puntland Presidency, also bars any other journalist from doing any journalistic reporting for the VOA Somali Service.

"We call upon the Puntland authorities to immediately withdraw the suspension and allow the three journalists to carry out their work without any hindrances or conditions. The suspension is an affront to the peoples' right to receive and will result in the people of Puntland not being able to get news and information which would have otherwise been provided by these journalists through the VOA. It is therefore a suppression of the public's right to know what is happening in Puntland," Omar Faruk Osman added.
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