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Somalia: Journalist beaten, detained for allegedly covering controversial meeting

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemns the assault, torture, mistreatment and overnight detention of broadcast journalist Ali Ilyas Abdullahi by security forces in Baidoa, in southwest Somalia.

On Wednesday evening, 5 February 2014, security forces under the instructions of the Baidoa district administration, beat and detained Abdullahi, a journalist working for Radio Warsan and HornCable TV in Baidoa. The attack occurred after Abdullahi was blamed of attending and covering a meeting taking placing at the Bakin Hotel, where elders and politicians [discussed] the formation of a regional state in the southwestern region of Somalia, according to Warsan Radio and local journalists. Baidoa's administration is against said meeting.

Abdullahi, who was picked up from the Radio Warsan neighbourhood, was taken to the central prison in Baidoa where he was subjected to severe beatings in the detention before he was released this morning. He was unable to go to work today due to beatings. The journalist experienced pains all over his body including his right eye.

"Baidoa's authorities are employing violence, detention, and intimidation against journalists to hide events in Baidoa from their own people and the rest of the nation," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. "Journalists have a right and a duty to report on what is going on in Baidoa."

At least 5 journalists told NUSOJ that they were intimidated by local security forces and senior officials of the Baidoa administration who warned them not to cover the meeting taking place at Bakin Hotel. Two other journalists were briefly detained last month in Baidoa.

"Authorities should put a halt to their terrible practice of violent censorship," added Osman. "Both at regional and district levels, the local administration is responsible for ensuring that journalists can carry out their work without the threat of assault."

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