The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemns the continued detention of Journalists Mohammed Abdi Sheikh Ilig of MMTV, Abdijabar Mohamed Hussein of HornCable TV, and Abdirahman Ali Khalif of Gobonnimo TV who have been remanded for a further 7 days by the authorities in Hargeisa.
The trio were transferred to Hargeisa Central Prison at 13:00hrs local time today, after court allowed police to continue holding them pending investigations. They were part of a group of 15 journalists who were arrested April 13, as they covered a riot at Hargeisa Central prison.
“We are concerned by the continued and discriminative detention of the three journalists in Hargeisa and demand for their immediate freedom,” said NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman. “It is unthinkable that journalism should be criminalized in a situation where open flow of information is important for public confidence and avoidance of unnecessary panic.”
“We see the continued detention of the three as unfounded and selective persecution intended to cow them into silence. The circumstances of their arrest and continued detention are not different from the 12 who were released yesterday. They should therefore be released without further delay,” Osman added.
NUSOJ wishes to remind the police of the fact that all citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to similar treatment. The union interprets the continued detention of the three colleagues as an act of intimidation that cannot be tolerated in a just and democratic society. The journalists were not conspirators in the Hargeisa Central Prison riots and are mere messengers who should not be victimized.
“We once again call for the unconditional release of Mohammed Abdi Sheikh Ilig, Abdijabar Mohammed Hussein, and Abdirahman Ali Khalif. We also wish to remind the authorities in Hargeisa in particular and Somaliland in general that journalism is not a crime,” Osman declared.