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Puntland detains 2 journalists for reporting on anti-inflation protests

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The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemns the arbitrary arrest of two freelance Journalists in Garowe, Nugal Region and demands that the Puntland authorities release them without any further delay or conditions.

Farah Mohamed Khalif, also known as Yemeni and Kilwe Adan Farah, were picked from their offices by Puntland police at around 7:30pm, on Sunday, 27 December 2020. No charges have been preferred against the freelance journalists.

According to local journalists, Yemeni and Killwe’s detention is linked to the publication of photographs of protests by members of the general public against rising inflation in Puntland regions.

“We demand the immediate and unconditional release of our colleagues whose only crime was to engage in their work as journalists,” said NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman.

Three (3) local journalists who equally reported on anti-inflation protests in several Puntland towns have received threats of arrests while a veteran journalist who travelled out of Puntland was threatened that he will be arrested upon his return. 

Independent journalists in Puntland have been under attack for years, with the recent arrests over anti-inflation protests taking the repression to a new level. 

“This kind of harassment is unacceptable because it is intended to create an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship among Puntland-based journalists. The public has a right to know through media of their choice. Puntland authorities should refrain from engaging in any actions that interfere with the ability of journalists to inform the public,” Osman Added.

People have every reason to peacefully protest, and the authorities have an obligation to allow them to do so safely as enshrined in the Provisional Constitution of Somalia. Instead, Puntland chose to detain the journalists who reported the peaceful protests and threatened other journalists.