SOMALIA: Dhusamareb police arbitrary detains a journalist while police in Garowe summons freelance reporter

Chained journalist Mohamed Abdiweli Tohow is held at Dhusamareb police station. | PHOTO CREDIT/Private.

MOGADISHU, Somalia, 30 September 2021 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and the Somali Media Association (SOMA) call on Galmudug authorities to immediately and unconditionally free freelance journalist, Mohamed Abdiweli Tohow who is held at Dhusamareb police station since Tuesday night 28 September, while we call Puntland authorities to stop its harassment through police summoning against journalist Mohamed Salah in Garowe.

Dhusamareb police officers detained journalist, Mohamed Abdiweli Tohow following his 15 September reporting that revealed the Dhusamareb police commissioner who had surrendered a machine-gun mounted vehicle and weapons to Ahlusuna militia resulting the commissioner’s suspension on 16 September.

Journalist Tohow was detained on his way to home when armed police officers stopped his taxi and arrested him on Tuesday night. “He is currently held at the Dhusamareb police station with his legs chained,” local journalists who visited Tohow said.

On Wednesday 29 September, SJS and SOMA reached out to Galmudug’s Minister of Information and protested against Tohow’s arbitrary detention. The Minister, Ahmed Shire Falagle, however, promised that he was making efforts to free the journalist

On Thursday morning 30 September, journalist Tohow was taken to Dhusamareb District Court, where two court assistants and the Dhusamareb police commissioner, Major Mohamed Hassan Sanjeh, who reportedly ordered Tohow’s arrest, were in attendance. According to family and journalists’ sources, there were no judges in the court and Tohow does not have a lawyer to represent him.

Meanwhile, SJS and SOMA condemn the Garowe police’s summoning and the subsequent interrogations against freelance journalist, Mohamed Salah on Wednesday 29 September in Garowe. According to journalist Salah, police officers from Nugal Criminal Investigations Department (CID) summoned him and later interrogated him at the Garowe police station for three hours. “They enquired me about my reporting. I told them that I am a journalist doing my work to inform the public. They said they have cases against me and that they would re-summon me,” Salah added saying that he was not arrested.

Salah’s summoning came after he reported the death of a female university graduate who was shot dead by the security guards of Puntland president, Said Abdullahi Deni in Garowe on Monday night.

“The Dhusamareb police commissioner and his officers are holding journalist Mohamed Abdiweli Tohow illegally and we demand his immediate and unconditional freedom. We call Galmudug authorities to investigate this arbitrary detention of Tohow as we demand that police to stop illegitimately using force to harass him,”  Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of SJS said “We also call Puntland authorities to stop using unlawful summons to harass journalist Mohamed Salah. No journalist should be arrested or threatened for reporting what is happening in his/her region.”

“We condemn journalist Mohamed Abdiweli Tohow’s arbitrary detention in Galmudug as well as the police summoning against journalist Mohamed Salah in Puntland. These are meant only to deter the independent journalism reporting on the wrongdoings of the local authorities,” Mohamed Osman Makaran, the Secretary General of SOMA said.

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