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IFJ condemns arbitrary arrests of journalists

(IFJ/IFEX) - 23 April 2012 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the arrest and detention of two broadcast journalists and persistent acts of intimidation of media professionals in northern Somalia.

“We deeply condemn the continued arbitrary arrests and sustained acts of intimidation of journalists in Somalia, especially in the disputed regions of Sool and Sanaag,” said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Office Director.

According to National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), an IFJ affiliate, Mohamed Shaqale, a reporter for Somalisat TV in Las Anod city in Sool region, was arrested by Somaliland police on 19 April in an armored vehicle in the centre of the district of Las Anod, the headquarters of Sool region. He then was taken to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), where he was reportedly interrogated and is currently being detained. The police did not state the reason behind the arrest.

On 3 March, Awke Abdullahi, Director of Radio Voice of Peace in Bossasso, was arrested. He is still in detention despite his deteriorating health. On 13 April, Abdweli Hassan Gooni, NUSOJ Coordinator in Puntland, was arrested before being released on 16 April.

“Press freedom is a critical issue in Somaliland and Puntland controlled regions, where journalists are still harassed and jailed. Somaliland authorities in Sool region are accustomed to arrest, intimidate and question journalists owing to their journalistic work,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. “We call for the immediate release of Mohamed Shaqale as there is no lawful reason for his arrest and detention,” he added.

On 22 March 2011, Mohamed Shaqale was attacked in Las Anod by Somaliland soldiers for filing reports that the Somaliland army deemed contrary to their forces. Shaqale went into hiding in Las Anod, but his laptop computer, camera and recorders were confiscated. His house was also searched by police.

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