The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on government to unconditionally lift the bans after police entered the offices of broadcasters Horyaal 24 TV and Eryal TV on Wednesday.

Authorities in the breakaway region of Somaliland should immediately lift an indefinite ban on two privately owned television stations, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged on Thursday.

“Beginning at 7:30 a.m. yesterday, police entered the offices of broadcasters Horyaal 24 TV and Eryal TV in the capital, Hargeisa, and ordered them closed indefinitely, allegedly on orders from the ministry of information,” said CPJ in a statement that details how the police enforced the ban.

At each station, police officers presented a letter allegedly signed by the minister of information, Mohamed Muse Dirie, demanding they be shut down, but they did not allow the stations the keep copies of the letter.

The letters accused the two stations of airing content that threatened national security.

“The arbitrary closure of Horyaal 24 TV and Eryal TV without due process sends the message that Somaliland media operates at the whim of government officials,” said CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo.

“We call on the government to immediately and unconditionally lift these bans and allow the press to work freely.”

While the Hargeisa offices of both stations remain closed, they continue to broadcast from other studios based outside of the region, and their programming is still accessible to Somaliland viewers via satellite.

The CPJ said calls and text messages to Dirie went unanswered. Mukhtar Mohamed Ali, the ministry’s director general, told CPJ that he was in a meeting and could speak later, but did not answer follow-up phone calls.

– African News Agency (ANA)