MOGADISHU, Somalia, 04 September, 2019 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) strongly condemns the orders of blockage of two leading news websites in Somaliland and Puntland and calls both authorities to refrain from harassing independent journalists.
On Tuesday 03 September, 2019, Hargeisa-based Marodi Jeh Regional Court ordered the blockage of independent news website Hadhwanaag.ca following a request from the police asking the internet service providers to block the news site. The court document reviewed by Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) mentions articles and series of interviews published by Hadhwanaag News, which allege misuse of public money by the Governor of the Central Bank of Somaliland, Ali Ibrahim Jama (also known as Baghdadi) as the reason of the order of the blockage.
Further, the management of Hawdhwanaag News was also summoned to the Office of Somaliland’s Attorney General for questioning, according to Ahmed Nasir Farah, the website’s Editor-in-Chief.
Separately, in Puntland State, the Minister of Information, Ali Hassan Ahmed (also known as Sabarey) on Tuesday ordered internet companies to block the independent news website Puntlandtimes.com. The order was made during a press conference in Garowe by Minister Sabarey following a news report which the Puntland Times allegedly reported civil servants’ protest at the Puntland Ministry of Information on 26 and 27 August, 2019 over unpaid salaries and Minister Sabarey’s name was mentioned.
Puntland Times Editor, Farah Abdukadir Geylan told Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) that two days before the order of the blockage, he received a phone call from the Minister of Information Ali Sabarey who threatened with arrest.
“It is very worrying that authorities in Somaliland and Puntland are blocking news websites deemed critical to them and threatening journalists. Such orders are acts of censorship and infringement on the freedom of the press and denial of the public’s right of access to information,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, Secretary General of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said.
Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) reminds authorities that it is the rights of the journalists to report about issues of public interest, including to investigating wrongdoings of government officials without fear or reprisal.
“We call the telecommunication companies to turn down the orders to block the two news websites of Hadhwanaag News and Puntland Times,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, Secretary General of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) adds.