Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights joins the Somali Journalists Syndicate and the Somali Media Association in condemning the retaliatory detention of 15 journalists in Hargeisa, and calls on Somaliland authorities to immediately release the three detained journalists who remain in detention.
On April 13, Somaliland police and intelligence service officers arrested a group of journalists covering a shooting incident at the Hargeisa central prison. That afternoon, police and intelligence service officers also raided the studios of Horn Cable TV, a private independent television in Hargeisa, and arrested several journalists. Two female reporters, Sagal Mustafe Hassan of Voice of America and Naima Abdi Ahmed of Caro Edeg Media, were later released that night.
The fifteen journalists (pictured above) were incarcerated in the Hargeisa Criminal Investigation Department cells. Many of them have families with children whom they are not able to join to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan. Following their arbitrary detention on April 16, the Hargeisa-based Marodi-Jeh Court issued its decision to allow the police to remand all detained journalists in detention for an additional five days. On April 19, 12 journalists were released, yet three remain in detention for unspecified reasons.
This incident is part of increasing violence and repression against journalists in Somalia, as it remains Africa’s most dangerous country for media personnel. Somali journalists face various kinds of attacks, harassment, threats, arrests, and even killings. “We call on authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the three journalists that remain arbitrarily detained. Reporting is not a crime,” Angelita Baeyens, Vice President of International Advocacy and Litigation at Robert F. Kennedy, said. “Press freedom, the right to freedom of expression, and access to information must be respected.”