MOGADISHU – Somali government on Tuesday said that it had arrested two police officers who beat, harassed and confiscated journalists equipments a day earlier, a move hailed by Somali journalists Syndicate
On Monday afternoon, two pick-up trucks with armed police officers stopped the journalists’ car working for Aljazeera and Reuters and immediately began harassing, beating and fired several bullets into air while pointing guns at the journalists, according to Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), a membership based journalists’ trade union based in the Somali capital.
Director of Communications of office of the President, Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed said on a facebook post that the police arrested two police officers iin connection with the journalist’s beatings and will be brought before the courts of law, while apologizing to the Somali media in general, specifically the journalists who suffered the police brutality.
“Somali police deserve to be appreciated in their noble work in maintaining the security, but it’s important to stay away from any activities against the law and the country’s constitution,” Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed, director of communication of Villa Somalia said, “I apologize to the Somali media in general specially the journalists affected by the police brutality.”
“We (as a government) will take every step in ensuring the journalists’ safety and preserving their constitutional rights” Mr. Ahmed added.
The Secretary General of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), Abdalle Ahmed Mumin said his union hailed the government’s move and urged them to bring them before the law insisting that authorities need to be honest in investigating police brutality against journalists.
“While we welcome this announcement of the two police officers arrested as claimed by the President’s Communications Director, we also demand the government to be transparent in its actions towards prosecuting its soldiers who commit violations against journalists,” Mr. Mumin said.
“We need actions not words,” he added.
Meanwhile SJS further demanded the government to open investigations into last week’s illegal arrests against five journalists whose cameras were damaged by the police as the local journalists were on a mission to report a protest by the Mogadishu public buses drivers.
“Journalists are not enemies, but are messengers and their attack is not only a violation against press freedom and freedom of expression but also constitutes a human rights violation.” SJS Secretary General, Mr. Mumin said in a statement released by the union on Monday soon after the journalists were attacked.
In recent months, a pattern of arrests, intimidation and censorship of media outlets has emerged as governments and security forces attempt to regain control over a country plagued by regional disputes and ongoing conflicts ahead of planned next year’s general elections.