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Two journalists arrested in Somaliland

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - 8 September 2011 - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is calling on Somaliland authorities to end a new campaign of intimidation against journalists and free a detained newspaper reporter who has been in jail since 5 September 2011 in Buro' town, Somaliland (northwestern Somalia).

Ahmed Muse Mohamed (publicly known as Sagaro), a reporter for "Waaheen" newspaper, was arrested on 5 September at Buro' police station but was later transferred to the central jail in Togdheer region, Somaliland.

Reports from Somaliland indicate that the journalist was arrested without a court warrant on the orders of the Buro' governor, Yasin Mohamed Abdi. He was brought before a town court on 7 September and remanded to custody for one week.

Officers attached to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Buro' town also arrested Mahad Abdillahi Farah, a reporter with "Ogaal" newspaper, on 6 September. Farah was held in a cell for seven hours with detainees serving time for criminal offenses.

The motive behind Mohamed's detention was a report published by "Waaheen" about a dispute among officials from Somaliland's Ministry of Sports over an activity in the region that the governor failed to resolve. The governor accused the journalist of misquoting him even though the same reports were carried by two other major newspapers, "Ogaal" and "Haatuf".

"It is evident that the Somaliland authorities are determined to continue their extremely coercive and confrontational actions of cracking down on the independent media in Somaliland," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. "We demand the withdrawal of the case filed against Ahmed Muse Mohamed."

In a separate case, journalist Ali Ismail Aare, "Waaheen" correspondent for the Awdal region, was arrested and later released without charge after the local government in Awdal accused him of collecting information about alleged plans to remove the gate doors of anyone refusing to pay taxes to the local government.

"Somaliland authorities must safeguard the independence of journalists to help them carry out their crucial role in exposing society's ills," said Osman. "Journalists cannot do their work under such oppressive and coercive conditions."

NUSOJ demands that Somaliland authorities immediately put an end to the harassment of journalists and ensure their protection so that the press can work in a free environment.

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