MOGADISHU, Somalia, 22 August, 2019 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) strongly condemns the harassment and the brief arrest of two television journalists by the Puntland police in Galkayo on Thursday morning 22 August, 2019.
Around 8.35am local time, armed police stopped at gunpoint a car transporting journalists Burhan Mohamed Abdi, correspondent for the state-owned Puntland TV and Abdiweli Jama Cagarane, reporter for SBC TV and briefly arrested them. Both journalists were held at Miir police station in Galkayo for two and half hours before they were released.
At the time of their arrest the journalists were returning from an assignment covering a police hand-over ceremony at the regional police commissioner’s office.
“We were called to cover the hand-over ceremony inside the police commissioner’s office. As we were leaving the police headquarters, armed police from Miir police station came and stopped our car at gunpoint. Then he ordered our arrest,” journalist Burhan Mohamed Abdi of Puntland TV told Somali Journalists Syndicate after his release.
Journalist Said Abdullahi who helped the release of the two journalists also told Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) that the police commander who ordered the arrest had threatened that he will push for further charges against the journalists.
“The police did not question the two journalists and they did not provide any explanation about this illegal arrest,” journalist Said Abdullahi told Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) “We heard the commander threatening that he will arrest the journalists even after they were released with orders from senior police officials.”
“It is unfortunate that police officers are becoming more aggressive toward journalists on assignment,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said “We call authorities in Galkayo to investigate this harassment by the police officers and provide explanation of the arrest of Burhan Mohamed Abdi and Abdiweli Jama Cagarane.”
Arrests, intimidations and threats by state security forces against journalists had been on the rise across Somalia putting yet more dangerous on journalists and media workers’ operations.
On July 29, 2019, Nugal Regional Court in Garowe released freelance journalist Mohamed Said Yusuf after spending 16 days in jail over publishing critical interview.