Press freedom threatened in Hirshabelle, Somalia, says SJS secretary general

MOGADISHU (Somali Affairs) Press freedom deteriorated in Somalia’s Hirshabelle state after police raided a hotel this week where a group of local journalists were training on security.

On Thursday, police also harassed and arbitrarily detained journalist Abdalle Ahmed Mumin who is also the general secretary of the Somali Journalists Union in Jowhar before releasing him in the evening. At least four reporters have had their equipment confiscated or have been forced to flee the region’s capital, Jowhar, in the past two months following a clash with police.

“Journalists in this region are facing an unprecedented wave of attacks. Just weeks ago, officials in Hirshabelle’s presidency banned Dalsan TV operations in Jowhar after the TV station aired a brawl in parliament following the disputed Upper House elections last month, who take credit for being the most corrupt electoral process, ”Mumin said.

The ongoing armed conflict, insecurity, lack of state protection and recurrent humanitarian crises have exposed civilians in Hirshabelle to serious abuse. Clan militias compete for control of state resources and even extort bribes from local and international organizations.

At a joint press conference in Mogadishu on Saturday, Mumin said authorities were unwilling to investigate violations against journalists.

“Political violence and corruption undermine the freedom to inform the general Somali public. It is especially difficult when these crimes are committed by known state officials such as the police commissioner, the interior minister and key presidential advisers, ”Mumin said.

Middle Shabelle Police Chief Col. Adan Yarow said police officers do not understand press freedom and human rights.

“Journalists are the government’s watchdogs, but some officials do not like the media watchdog role,” he said.

But, said SJS secretary general Mumin, with the approach of national elections slated for late 2021, the government’s commitment to free and independent reporting is particularly important.

“The creation of a legal and security environment conducive to the media requires important concrete measures. The international community has a vital role to play in securing these measures, ”Mumin said.

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