MOGADISHU, Somalia, 10 September, 2019 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) is concerned about the new restrictive directive from Somaliland’s Minister of Information, Mohamed Muse Dirie which instructs local TV stations to prioritize Somaliland related news over reports of events in Somalia issued on Monday 09 September, 2019.
In a written press statement, the Minister said he gave the instructions to the independent TV stations’ bosses during a meeting at the Minister’s office in Hargeisa. Nine heads of the independent private TV stations: Saab TV, Eryal TV, Horn Cable TV, Star TV, Codka Bariga Afrika (CBA), Badda Cas TV, Bulsho TV, SOM News TV and Sahan TV attended the meeting. The owner of Horyaal24 TV, Mohamed Osman Mire (Sayid) remains in jail after he was detained on Saturday 07 September. The editor of Horyaal24 TV was not invited to the Monday’s meeting.
“The Ministry has decided that independent TV stations prioritize Somaliland related news coverage over Somalia since we are two separate countries and governments; also to include Somalia related news events into that of World News,” read part of the statement from Somaliland’s Minister of Information.
The directive orders the implementation of this order in two weeks time commencing from 09 September, 2019.
Four of the nine media houses attended the meeting told Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) that they have protested against the directive as interference to their duties but were told that ‘it was an order from the state’.
“Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) strongly opposes this blatant violation of the media houses’ right to editorial independence. it is the editors who make decisions about the way they pick their news coverage, not the state or the Minister of Information,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said “We stand with our colleagues of editors and media managers in Somaliland who protested and continue to oppose this unlawful directive,”
The freedoms of press and that of the journalists in Somaliland are growingly declining as authorities arrested 28 journalists in 2018 and so far this year two are in jail, an indication of a worrying trend of restricting freedom of the press.
On Friday 08 September, 2019, Somaliland’s Criminal Investigations Department (CID) raided and shut down Horyaal24 TV and arrested its owner Mohamed Osman Mire (Sayid) the next day.
“While Somaliland Media Law and its Constitution both guarantee the freedom of the media, it seems authorities are using outdated measures to restrict free media and the work of the journalists,” adds Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS).
Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) calls authorities in Somaliland to cease ongoing harassment against the free press.