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NUSOJ condemns Somaliland’s crude assault on the BBC and independent journalism

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The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemns and rejects in totality, the decision of the authorities in Somaliland to ban and suspend the operations of the BBC Somali Service in their territory.

In a statement on July 19, 2022, Somaliland’s Minister of Information, Mr Saleban Yusuf Ali Kore, was quoted as saying that the government of Somaliland had totally stopped the operations and reporting of news in Somaliland by the BBC Somali Service.

Mr Saleban Yusuf Ali Kore said the decision was arrived at because the BBC Somali Service had become “an enemy to the sovereignty and existence of Somaliland”. “As a government, we have decided to stop the BBC from operating in Somaliland, after it has degraded the honour and dignity of Somaliland” the Minister said.

NUSOJ stands to be counted as being among the voices of reason that condemn this arbitrary and indefensible action against media freedom which is only aimed at imposing an information blackout over Somaliland. If indeed Somaliland authorities have concerns, there is a proper mechanism to raise complaints directly with the BBC management instead of resorting to this repressive and regressive act.

“Sadly, the media freedom situation in Somaliland has for some time been under a sustained attack by the very people entrusted with ensuring that journalists and citizens enjoy their right to freedom of information and expression of opinion through the media of their choice. Somaliland has put local media under siege and has now moved to remove the only window to the world about what is happening in its territory,” said NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman.

“We condemn and reject in totality this arbitrary, high-handed and regressive action by Somaliland which goes against the rights enshrined in the constitution of Somaliland and international conventions. We demand for the immediate reversal of this mischievous and obnoxious statement by Minister Saleban Yusuf Ali Kore,” Osman added.

The latest abuse of media freedom comes just weeks after Somaliland President granted presidential pardon to two TV journalists who had been sentenced to 16 months in jail, on trumped up charges after they conveyed live reports of a riot at Hargeisa Central Prison.

NUSOJ understands Mr Salerban Yusuf Ali Koore’s action against the BBC to be an attempt to counter a decision concerning an event that BBC initially wanted to organise in Hargeisa which was finally cancelled. 

“If there are legitimate concerns by the Somaliland authorities, there are always ways to raise directly with the management of BBC, instead of resorting to an indefinite ban, which could only be construed as a dictated position that is totally against independent practice of journalism with a direct assault on editorial freedom”