Somaliland: TV Journalists assaulted and briefly detained for covering protest in Hargeisa

MOGADISHU, Somalia, 10 November, 2019 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) condemns the beating, harassment meant to silence and unlawful detention against two TV journalists in Hargeisa on Sunday 10 November, 2019.

Around 9.30am police officers accompanied by employees from a private business company called Deero Group assaulted and beat up Bulsho TV reporter, Ahmed Nur Isse Mohamed (Samrawi) and Horyaal24 TV reporter, Ibrahim Abdirahman Ibrahim (Jokar) while covering a protest by local traders who complained about unpaid dues against Deero Group in Hargeisa.

According to two colleagues who spoke to SJS and photos shared on social media, the journalists were forced to halt filming and interviewing protesters. Then police started beating up the two reporters who both sustained slight injuries. Bulsho TV journalist Ahmed Samrawi complains from back, knee and elbow injuries as he fell to the ground after a police officer hit him a wooden baton, while Horyaal24 TV reporter Ibrahim Jokar’s camera was damaged.

“They were taken to the Hargeisa Central Police Station where they were detained until 3.00pm local time before they were released,” one colleague told SJS “The journalists were not allowed to see a doctor”.

Around 3.00pm the two reporters were released without charges but on a condition that they refrain from reporting about the assault against them and the news of the protest they were covering in the morning.

“At first police agreed to set free the pair, but people from the private company pressured the police and brought a condition that the journalists had to give oral consent that they will not report about the assault and the protest,” a senior news editor who spoke to SJS on anonymity condition added.

Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) strongly condemns the assault on Ahmed Nur Isse Mohamed (Samrawi) and Ibrahim Abdirahman Ibrahim (Jokar) and the intimidations meant to discourage them from reporting what they have really seen or experienced.

“SJS calls authorities in Somaliland to immediately launch investigation and arrest the officers who assaulted and beaten up Ahmed Nur Isse Mohamed (Samrawi) and Ibrahim Abdirahman Ibrahim (Jokar). Also investigations should be carried against the Deero Group,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said “The freedom to inform the public is unalienable and journalists have the right to report without fear.”

The violence against independent media, restrictions and acts of censorship have worsened in Somaliland. More than 23 journalists have been arrested by police in Somaliland since January this year. Currently journalist Abdimalik Muse Oldon is serving three and half years in jail.