Somalia: Galmudug police frees three journalists arbitrarily detained for covering armed conflict in the region

Three journalists: Mohamed Abdiweli Tohow in Dhusamareb, Mohamed Abdukadir Said in Galkayo and Hashim Omar Hassan in Adado were freed after they were arbitrarily detained. |PHOTO/SJS.

MOGADISHU, Somalia, 05 October 2021 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and Somali Media Association (SOMA) welcome the freedom of three journalists: Mohamed Abdiweli Tohow in Dhusamareb, Mohamed Abdukadir Said in Galkayo and Hashim Omar Hassan in Adado after they were arbitrarily detained.

On Monday 4 October, Galmudug police officers in Adado town detained Radio Adado and Five TV freelancer, Hashim Omar Hassan following his report on Sunday that covered a meeting by members of the Sufi followers who supported the renewed resurgence of the Ahlusuna militia in Galmudug.  He was held at the Adado police station. According to Sharma’arke Suley, the director of Radio Adado, the journalist was freed hours later after his director agreed to bring him back once the police summons him. There are no charges brought against him.

On Sunday 3 October, Galmudug police in Dhusamareb freed freelance journalist, Mohamed Abdiweli Tohow after he was held on 28 September. According to Tohow, he was released without charge but was told to return once police summons him. “I was repeatedly beaten in the police detention. The officers had forcibly shaved my head,” he said.

On Sunday 3 October, Galmudug police in Galkayo briefly detained freelancer journalist, Mohamed Abduqadir Said, who reports for the privately-owned local Radio Hayan and was among a group of local journalists recently trained by SJS with the support of Canada Fund for Local Initiatives. According to Mohamed, his arrest came after Galkayo South (Galmudug) police chief, Qasim Sheikhdon called the journalist over the phone and ordered him to report to the police station where Mohamed was detained upon reaching. His detention came after he covered a group of Sufi followers who announced their support for the resurgence of the Ahlusuna militia group in Galmudug. Mohamed was freed later that day without charge but was instructed not to report issues regarding Ahlusuna militia in the region.

SJS and SOMA are gravely concerned by the Galmudug police’s increased pressure on journalists and media houses covering the renewed conflict in the region.  Police officers in Dhusamareb, Adado and Galkayo are intimidating, detaining, and threatening journalists covering the armed clashes between Galmudug security forces backed by the Federal Government forces against the Ahlusuna militia group which have been ongoing since late September.

“Galmudug security forces should stop intimidating, detaining, and threatening journalists who are covering the armed clashes between its security forces and the Ahlusuna militia group. Journalists should be allowed to report independently,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said. “The role of the journalists is to report what both sides of the conflict are doing. These threats, intimidations and detentions against journalists are only intended to silence the media and prevent from the public to understand what is happening in Galmudug.”

“We condemn the recurrent arbitrary detentions against journalists in Galmudug. We call police officials to stop intimidating local journalists because of how they are reporting the conflict in the region. Authorities in Galmudug and its security forces should know that the armed conflict in Galmudug cannot be an excuse to constrain media freedom,” Mohamed Osman Makaran, the Secretary General of Somali Media Association (SOMA) said.

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