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Journalist beaten by police in Somaliland

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - 11 September 2011 - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is outraged by the savage beating of "Waheen" newspaper journalist Saleban Abdi Ali by the Somaliland Police's Special Protection Unit (SPU). The incident took place on 10 September 2011 in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

The journalist was trying to attend a ceremony in Hargeisa where a new interior minister, Mohamed Nur Aralle, was being sworn in to the ministry by the acting interior minister, but the SPU soldiers stopped the journalist from entering the ceremony. Two men wearing police uniforms beat the journalist before detaining him for 10 hours in the Hargeisa detention center.

One of the SPU officers who was watching when Ali was beaten told him, "You want to be famous? We'll make you famous." The officer told the other journalists who witnessed the assault that Ali is "an example", adding that when "Waheen" publishes "disparaging reports" about "government officials" its reporters should be treated like this.

"For police officers to attack a journalist because the authorities do not like what the newspaper publishes is an indicator of how little respect there is for press freedom and journalists' security in Somaliland," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. "Attacks like this contribute to an atmosphere of fear for the Somaliland media."

"We call upon the Somaliland authorities to open a full investigation and bring the soldiers who carried out this brutal assault to justice. This kind of shameless attack cannot go unpunished," added Osman.

In a separate incident, Somaliland police arrested journalist Ahmed Muse Mohamed, publicly known as Sagaro, who is also a reporter for "Waheen" newspaper, on 5 September 2011 in Bur'o police station. He was later transferred to the central jail in Bur'o, in the Togdheer region of Somaliland.

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