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Police violence and incommunicado detention against independent journalists

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The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemns the unprovoked violence meted out by Federal Somali Police Force (SPF) on two journalists as they reported on flooding in a Mogadishu district earlier today.

The two journalists Mohamed Nur Mohamed and Munasar Abdirahaman Ahmed who are working for privately owned Arlaadi Media Network, as a reporter and cameraman respectively, were out in the field compiling a report on the floods that inundated Wadajir district and other neighbourhoods, when they were set upon by armed Police, who battered them and confiscated their equipment.

Footage that captured part of the confrontation shows a police officer hitting Mohamed Nur Mohamed with a gun butt before another officer seizes the camera from Munasar Abdirahaman Ahmed in an effort to stop the recording of the video. The journalists were detained for several hours before they were released without charge.

NUSOJ protests against this violent attack and subsequently brief detention as an act of impunity by uniformed officers, and demands that the errant police officers are held to account for their violent attack.

“This action once again shows the deeply entrenched propensity to attack journalists and curtail freedom of the media in Somalia by members of the law enforcement,” said NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman. “We want the new government of Somalia to demonstrate the will to stamp out the routine abuse of journalists’ rights by the security forces”.

In a separate incident, Hassan Ali Daud, a reporter for Arlaadi Media Network was arrested and detained incommunicado since Saturday 16 July 2022 by the intelligence and security forces in Baidoa, according to the Director of Arlaadi Media Network, Ahmed Ali Nur. Though not officially charged, the forces reportedly accused the journalist of recording a protest by the Southwest regional parliamentarians who were reportedly demanding for the resumption of the sessions of the parliament of south-west.

In investigations conducted by NUSOJ to understand accurately what happened to Daud, the union has learned intelligence agents are even threatening the journalist’s family and close colleagues in order for them not to talk about the situation even when they are kept in the dark about the journalist’s situation.

“Keeping Hassan Ali Daud in incommunicado detention beyond the statutory hours without producing him before a court of law or releasing him is a violation of the law. Daud has neither been informed of the charges under which he is being held, nor produced before a competent court. This is very reprehensible action and we demand for his immediate and unconditional release without any further delay, ” Osman said.

NUSOJ has called on the leaders of Southwest State to end ongoing threats that silence journalists and curb media freedom, even at times where there is an internal political bickering within the Federal Member State.

“Having go at innocent journalists when there seems to be political slugfest between politicians is unacceptable. Agitation against journalists must end and media workers must not be victims of squabbling politicians” added Osman.