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Somalia: Shabelle Media Network journalists held in underground prison alongside suspected terrorists

© David Buffington/Spaces Images/Corbis

The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) is deeply concerned about the ongoing massive crackdown on media freedom and freedom of expression in Somalia.

On 15 August, 2014, heavily armed security forces raided and shut down Radio Shabelle and SkyFM, both owned by Shabelle Media Network, and arrested 19 journalists and media workers. Those arrested included the chairman of Shabelle Media Network, Abdimalik Yusuf Mohamud, and the director of SkyFM, Mohamud Mohamed Dahir. These media workers have been detained in the underground prison of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), a place where suspected terrorists are being kept.

In June this year, the Minister of Information submitted a draft media law, which would compel journalists to disclose their sources of information, to the Somali Council of Ministers to endorse so it will eventually be passed into law by parliament. The bill was subsequently withdrawn to allow for inputs from media stakeholders following intense pressure from media groups.

Until 2012, Somalia had been without a functioning state for over two decades. These periods witnessed arbitrary arrests and detention of journalists, frequent attacks on the media and other forms of serious human rights violations.

With the advent of a democratically elected government, AFEX expects the government of Somalia to guarantee freedom of expression as a fundamental prerequisite for democratic development and consolidation. This is why the ongoing violations are extremely worrying.

AFEX, therefore, calls for the immediate release of the detained journalists and the reopening of Shabelle Radio and SkyFM. Furthermore, AFEX calls for an immediate halt to the arbitrary arrests, torture and harassment of journalists and other free expression activists in Somalia.

Africa Freedom of Information Centre
Center for Media Studies & Peace Building
Human Rights Network for Journalists - Uganda
Journaliste en danger
Media Foundation for West Africa
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Rights Agenda
National Union of Somali Journalists
West African Journalists Association
What other IFEX members are saying
  • IFJ demands immediate release of Somali journalists following government attacks on media freedom

    The union says Shabelle chairman Abdimalik Yusuf Mohamud is in critical condition after eyewitness accounts reported that he was severely tortured inside the headquarters of Somalia's national intelligence security agency, as officers coerced him to say that he is against the Somali government, the cabinet and the parliament. The two other journalists being held are also said to have been badly beaten and tortured.

  • Three journalists tortured while in detention

    “The reaction of the Somali authorities is out of all proportion,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk. “Torturing journalists is disgraceful and totally unacceptable. The authorities have legal means at their disposal if they think comments by the media pose a danger to national security.

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