GAROWE (Somalilandpress) — On Sunday 21st of December, Mohamed Yasin Ishaq, a correspondent for American-based VOA Somali Service was snatched from his home midnight while asleep with his family in the town of Galkayo by Puntland forces.
Mr Ishaq was taken into custody by US-government funded Puntland Intelligence Service (PIS), that was established in 2001, which has since became the most powerful group in the semi-autonomous region with its own armed forces and controls half the state’s annual revenue.
Local journalists are demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Ishaq and to end the use of sedition, defamation and incitement laws to repress voices of dissent.
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In many parts of Somalia, press freedom continues to be hindered by the unmerited arrest and harassment of journalists. Journalists who cover government affairs, conflicts, or sensitive issues are routinely summoned to court and put behind bars illegally.
According to VOA, Mr Ishaq was injured in mid-November after being shot through the shoulder by a police officer who shot at him at least three times.
After reporting on the assassinations of senior Puntland officials, Ishaq was detained by Puntland officers in August.
Last week, the director of Radio Galkayo, Hassan Mohamed Jama came under fire from Puntland forces, narrowly escaping two bullets. The perpetrators were not arrested.
Meanwhile, Mr Ishaq is spending the seventh day behind bars without charges against him. According to reports, he has been transferred to the port city of Bosaso where he is locked up in PIS prison. Puntland authorities refuse him access to international organisations, his family and friends.
International organisations such as Paris-based Reporters Without Borders and the U.S. government have all issued separate statements calling for Ishaq’s immediate release and expressing concern over Puntland’s press freedom.
This is not the first time Puntland silenced independent reporters – freedom of press continues to have uphill battle in most parts of East Africa including Somalia, Somaliland, Sudan, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Eritrea.