Somalia’s police on Wednesday detained a senior TV journalist Ahmed Abdi Adawe in Mogadishu while seven other journalists were their equipment confiscated as the police deleted footage files from the journalists’ cameras following a deadly car bomb near the country’s Parliament.
According to the journalists, CNA TV correspondent Ahmed Abdi Adawe was detained by the police while his cameraman Abdullahi Mohamed Sheikhdon was his camera seized. Adawe was later released and the camera returned back to Sheikdon but had their film footage deleted by the officers.
“It was like the officers were prepared to attack the journalists. When I started filming the scene, Waberi police commissioner Mohamed Abduqadir confiscated my camera. Then he ordered his officers to take me to the police station,” Sheikhdon told Horn Observer “After negotiations, the officers deleted the film from the memory and returned my camera back.”
Radio Kulmiye journalists: Farhan Mohamed Hussein, Mohamed Dalal, Ali Elmi Salad and Abdiqani Abdullhi Abdi said their camera and phones were confiscated by Waberi Police Commissioner, Mohamed Abduqadir who deleted the photos and video of the blast site from their equipment before returning it back.
“There was a big bombing and all journalists arrived the scene. Soon the commander of Waberi, Mohamed Abduqadir came and started harassing us. He ordered the officers to beat the journalists. The officers started beating us with guns as we started to flee,” Radio Kulmiye reporter, Farhan Mohamed Hussein said.
He said the police gave back the journalists’ equipment after Editor Abdiqani Abdullahi Abdi intervened the matter but the officers erased the film and all photos showing the aftermath of the explosion.
“Police attacks and threats targeted to journalists covering bombing sites in Mogadishu has become the norm. It seems journalists and cameras are the enemy of the police now,” said journalist Farhan.
Reuters photojournalist Feisal Omar and Al-Jazeera Arabic freelance cameraman, Mohamed Osman Gurey also said they were attacked by the police. While Feisal Omar was able to dash off and hide, Mohamed Osman Gurey was not lucky enough as he was caught by the officers who also erased all his footage of the bombing leaving him with empty camera.
Mr. Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the secretary general of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) condemned the police actions of detaining journalists and erasing the footage in their cameras as act of obstruction against the free press and violation of the rights of journalists to cover any newsy stories with public interest.
“This is a blatant violation not only the right to access to information but also an attempt to destroy possible evidence of the incidents in which the journalists were covering,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, secretary general of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said “We call authorities to immediately launch investigation into police actions. Authorities should also allow journalists to attend and independently cover all types of news stories including to security related incidents.”
On Monday, a new report by the Somali Journalists Syndicate found that 81 journalists were physically assaulted in different parts of Somalia including Somaliland making the country a terrible place for journalists. 53 journalists were arrested and seven media houses shuttered during 2019, the report also stated.