South West briefly detains eight journalists in Baidoa while Galmudug incarcerates a freelance reporter in Guriel

MOGADISHU, Somalia, 31 October, 2021 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and Somali Media Association (SOMA) condemn the arbitrary detention of eight journalists by South West State police in Baidoa on Thursday, 28 October while we call Galmudug police to unconditionally free journalist Mohamed Abdiwahab Tohow currently detained in Guriel town.

On Thursday 28 October, South West State police led by Baidoa Airport police commander, Hussein Kerow detained seven journalists from local media houses— Qasim Mohamed Ahmed Aadan, (HCTV reporter); Abdirashid Ahmed, (Shabelle TV); Hassan Ali Daud (Star TV); Mukhtar Sheikh Adan (Radio Warsan); Abdullahi Nur Adan (Radio Warsan/Saab TV); Farah Hussein Haji (Radio Warsan); and Mohamed Abdirahin (RTN TV) — who were at the airport gate to cover the arrival of former South West State president, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, who is now a presidential candidate at the forthcoming elections of the Federal Government of Somalia. The journalists were held at the airport police station before they were transferred to the police headquarters in Baidoa.

Later that day, according to Radio Warsan management, police officers from the South West Criminal Investigation Department (CID) entered Radio Warsan compound in Baidoa and detained the radio’s editor-in-chief, Mohamed Abdirahman Malele.

(From left) Hilal Sheikh Shueb, Farah Hussein, Abdullahi Nur and Mohamed Abdirahman were also briefly detained in Baidoa on Thursday, 28 October, 2021. | PHOTO/SJS.

The police even summoned Radio Warsan director, Hilal Sheikh Shueyb, who is also the chairman of the Somali Media Association (SOMA) after he condemned the journalists’ arrests through an interview with BBC Somali radio on Thursday noon.  Mr. Shueyb was threatened with arrest by South West State police chief, Amin Mad-Darur and the Baidoa District Police Commander, Mukhtar Ahmed Ibrahim (Dugudow). Mr. Shueyb was also forced to give apology to the police or face detention.

All the eight journalists were freed after Radio Warsan’s Facebook was posted a statement apologising the police.  There were no charges against them.

On Thursday, 28 October, Galmudug police arbitrarily detained freelance journalist Mohamed Abdiweli Tohow following his coverage on the recent clashes in Guriel between government forces and Ahlusuna militia.  He is held at the Guriel police station.

Freelance journalist, Mohamed Abdiweli Tohow held in Guriel police station since Thursday, 28 October 2021. | PHOTO/Courtesy/SJS.

When reached out by SJS, Guriel Police commissioner, Osman Ali Hudey said that Tohow was detained on the orders of Galmudug president, Ahmed Abdi Karie Qorqor.  Tohow’s arrest in Guriel comes barely less than a month after he was released from Dhusamareb police detention for his coverage on the ongoing conflict in the region.

“We condemn these blatant violation against our colleagues in South West and in Galmudug. Police should know that journalists have the right to do their job freely without fear or reprisals, and obstructing such rights is a human rights violation,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said, “We condemn in the strongest terms possible and call for the both Somali federal authorities and federal member states, especially Galmudug and South West State of Somalia to stop the harassment, arbitrary arrests and threats against the journalists.”

“Journalists and media workers in general must be provided safe environment, where they can operate without fear.” Mr. Mumin Added.

“Journalists have been facing serious threats from South West and Galmudug authorities, in addition to the attacks against the media outlets, which, unfortunately, lead to the media houses to carryout self-censorship for the safety of their employees,” Mohamed Osman Makaran, Secretary General of the Somali Media Association (SOMA) said, “This culture must stop and regional authorities should respect the Somali constitution by allowing media stations to carryout their profession without interference.”