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Journalist arrested, beaten and detained briefly in Southwest Somalia

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemns the assault, torture, mistreatment and overnight detention of broadcast journalist Ali Ilyas Abdullahi by security forces in Baidoa, in southwest Somalia.
On Wednesday evening, 5 February 2014, security forces under the instructions of Baidoa district administration beat and detained Abdullahi, a journalist working for Radio Warsan and HornCable TV in Baidoa, after he was blamed of attending and covering a meeting taking placing at Bakin Hotel where elders and politicians want to form a Regional State in south-western region of Somalia, according Warsan Radio and local journalists. Baidoa administration is against the said meeting.
Ali Ilyas Abdullahi, who was picked up from Radio Warsan neighbourhood, was taken to central prison in Baidoa where he was subjected to severe beatings in the detention before he was released this morning. He was unable to go to work today due to beatings. The journalist experienced pains all over his body including his right eye.
“Baidoa authorities are employing violence, detention, and intimidation against journalists to hide events in Baidoa from their own people and the rest of the nation,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. “Journalists have a right and a duty to report on what is going on in Baidoa.”
At least 5 journalists told NUSOJ that they were intimidated by local security forces and senior officials of Baidoa administration who warned them not to cover the meeting taking place at Bakin Hotel. Two other journalists were briefly detained last month in Baidoa.
“Authorities should put a halt to their terrible practice of violent censorship,” added Osman. “Both at regional and district levels, the local administration is responsible for ensuring that journalists can carry out their work without the threat of assault.”

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