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Puntland must protect independent media from undue interference, says NUSOJ

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The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) draws attention to and condemns, the interference with independent media programming and suspension on 1 November 2021, of Radio Daljir’s popular community programme, Madasha Daljir; by the puntland minister for Interior and Democratization Mohamed Abdirahman Dhabancad.

The minister’s high- handed action, which happened a day before the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists on 2 November 2021, came just before Mohamed Hassan Irro, the Chairperson of Federal Electoral Implementation Team (FEIT) was to be hosted on Madasha Daljir. Irro was expected to give listeners abreast of the ongoing elections in Somalia. The interactive programme was also expected to give the residents in Puntland an opportunity to ask and get answers to relevant questions about the electoral process in the country.

Minister Mohamed Abdirahman Dhabancad’s “unilateral” and “illegal” action comes just few days after Puntland held first ever direct local elections where the people casted ballots to determine their choice for local representatives on the basis of political parties.

NUSOJ expresses deep concerns over this unwarranted action which is an affront to independent journalism, media freedom and Puntland’s democratisation initiative, as blocking citizens access to information about the electoral process at this crucial time, is tantamount to obstruction and rigging of the process.

“Apart from clearly undermining the independence of the media, this action raises serious questions about the space for public discourse on critical issues which may not be popular with the authorities. It is also a clear demonstration of the lack of commitment to carry through with democratic reforms in Puntland and Somalia in general” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

NUSOJ calls on Puntland authorities to immediately reverse the ban on Madasha Daljir; refrain from acts that would impede or interfere with the operations of independent news media organizations such as Radio Daljir and allow the people unfettered access to information about elections and other initiatives aimed at putting Puntland and Somalia on the path to democratic and inclusive development.

NUSOJ demands that the rights of journalists to seek and generate content without undue interference, as enshrined in national and international conventions, to be respected and put into practice by all Federal Member States.

Puntland in particular is reminded of its obligations under national law, to facilitate the free flow of information by protecting journalists and independent media from unwarranted interference with their work.