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NUSOJ condemns arbitrary arrests and reckless attacks on journalists in Somaliland, calls for their immediate release

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The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemns today’s arrest of independent journalists and the raid on Horn Cable TV, an independent television station in Hargeisa by Somaliland police.

The ten (10) journalists were arrested as they covered a standoff between inmates and guards at the Hargeisa Central Prison where a riot broke out after prisoners started hurling stones at the guards. Reinforcements were called in and journalists from different media responded to the ensuing commotion that saw the guards open fire, to quell a protest by the inmates who were armed with stones. 

Police however turned against the journalists who were at the scene to report on the unfolding events, assaulted and arrested 10 of them. Later in the day, police raided the independent Horn Cable TV headquarters in Hargeisa as part of efforts to prevent broadcasts on the events at the prison.

The 10 journalists who were still under detention at the Hargeisa’s Central Police Station at the time of this statement are: 

  1. Mohamed Abdi Sheikh (Ilig), Director of MM Somali TV
  2. Hassan Saleban Harun (Galaydh), reporter for BBC
  3. Ahmed Mohamud Yusuf, reporter for SAAB TV
  4. Sagal Mustafe Hassan Nur, reporter for VOA
  5. Naima Abdi Ahmed, freelance journalist and youtuber 
  6. Hamse Hirsi Hayd, reporter CBA TV 
  7. Aydarus Mohamed, Hargeisa Director for Goobjoog Tv 
  8. Ahmed-nuur Samraawi, Reporter for Bulsho TV 
  9. Ahmed Said Hassan Shimali, reporter for HornCable TV 
  10. Mohamed Faan, Camerman for MM Somalia TV

“We condemn this arbitrary, uncalled for action by the police and demand for the immediate and unconditional release of the detained journalists,” said NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman. “We also call for the immediate withdrawal of police from the premises of Horn Cable TV and non-interference with the station’s programming”. 

“The Journalists were covering an event of public interest that citizens have a right to know about. Their activities are protected under the law and the police have a duty to provide protection to journalists on duty instead of harassing, assaulting and arresting them,” Osman added.

NUSOJ demands that the police should give the reasons for the arrests and raid of Horn Cable TV and through the media, instead furnish the public with the grievances that in the first place, led to the outbreak of violence by the inmates.

Information trickling in suggests that the inmates became violent after learning that they had been excluded from a list of prisoners lined up for the clemency that the Somaliland President normally grants during the holy month of Ramadan. Some guards sustained injuries after they were stoned by the inmates, forcing prison authorities to call for reinforcements from the police and armed forces. 

“We repeat that journalism is not a crime. These actions by the police are arbitrary and reckless. We demand the Somaliland security forces including the police to exercise restraint whenever they encounter journalists during the course of their work,” Osman said.