Somaliland police detain a journalist covering forceful evictions in Lasanod, threatens others

MOGADISHU, Somalia, 03 October 2021 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and the Somali Media Association (SOMA) condemns the arbitrary detention of journalist Mowlid Ismail Diged on Saturday while covering forceful evictions by Somaliland forces in Lasanod.

On Saturday 2 September, Somaliland police officers detained Mowlid who reports for the Facebook news page Halbeeg Media and held at the Lasanod police station before he was freed later in that day without charge. The journalist was taking photos as police conducted forceful evictions of non-locals targeting ethnic southern Somali persons living in Lasanod city. The operation saw hundreds including women, children and elderly persons forcibly evicted from their homes and businesses in Lasanod, a city controlled by Somaliland and transferred to Puntland.

“The police beat, punched and kicked me. The confiscated my equipment. I was held the Lasanod police station until 3.00pm in the afternoon. There were others held in my cell which was very filthy,” Mowlid said who confirmed that his equipment was returned upon his release.

SJS and SOMA are concerned the ongoing harassment and threats against local journalists in Lasanod by the police. Journalists told SJS and SOMA that they received threats from Sool regional police commissioner Col. Ahmed Abdillahi Abdi after covering police operation targeting ethnic southern Somali persons in Lasanod.

“We condemn the arbitrary detention of journalist Mowlid Ismail Diged in Lasanod on Saturday. While Mowlid is now free, he and other colleagues continue to face threats and intimidation by the police in Lasanod,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said. “Journalists have told us that they cannot report the human rights violations committed by Somaliland police officers in Lasanod including ethnic profiling and forceful evictions of a large population from Lasanod because of their ethnicity. We call Somaliland authorities and those in Lasanod to allow journalists carry out their work independently, investigate those responsible for arresting and threatening journalists and hold them accountable.”

“We strongly condemn the Somaliland police actions targeting journalist Mowlid Ismail Diged and other colleagues who have been threatened by the police. Human rights violations committed by Somaliland police including arresting, beating and threatening journalists should not go unpunished,” Mohamed Osman Makaran, the Secretary General of Somali Media Association (SOMA) said. “Local media in Lasanod and their journalists are vital voice for the defenceless civilians whose rights are being violated. They should be also protected.”

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