The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) calls on the Puntland authorities to rescind the blocking of a news website (puntlandtimes.com) that the internet service providers in semi-autonomous regional State implemented today.
On Monday, 2 September 2019, the Puntland information minister, Ali Hassan Ahmed Sabarey who held press conference in Garowe, has officially requested all telecommunication companies that provide internet services to effectively block or shutdown the website due to critical news items that irritated the top leadership of the administration. The authorities gave no reason and did not refer the matter to the courts before acting.
The editor of Puntlandtimes.com Farah Abdulkadir Geylan who spoke to NUSOJ said that he has not been informed officially about the move which has come into effect from today, but Golis Telecom confirmed to him that they’ve received the Minister’s instructions. He added that he is not aware of the reason the Puntland government has decided to block his website.
It is widely believed that Minister Sabarey and top leadership of Puntland are not tolerating critical news about the relationship between Puntland and United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the recent visit of Puntland President Said Deni to the Emirates. Puntlandtimes.com has also written about complaints from workers at the ministry of information about lack of regular payment of salaries.
“Harassment of news websites and their journalists is not new in Puntland. But the blocking of puntlandtimes.com by Puntland, under the current administration, represents a significant escalation in its policy of suppressing news reports, online criticism and opinions critical of the administration’s engagements,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
“We demand the lifting of this blocking, which flouts basic freedoms of the press and opinion as protected by the provisional constitution of Somalia, as it restricts the right to freedom of information and the principle of proportionality that the authorities should always respect,” added Osman.