MOGADISHU, Somalia, 22 October, 2019 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) is alarmed by the new trend of threats and intimidations targeted at journalists and staff of the privately-owned independent Radio Daljir in Puntland, while SJS welcomes release of former Radio Daljir director, Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed (Tall man) on Tuesday 22 October after five days in jail.
In a statement on its website, Radio Daljir said it was alarmed by the unrelenting oppression on the free media and vehemently condemned the persecution, threats and harassment against its journalists, following a contradictory statement by its former radio director Mr. Tall man discrediting the radio station’s reports shortly after his release on Tuesday after the charges were dropped.
Ahmed Tall man was arrested on Thursday 17 October from his home in Garowe with the orders of Puntland police chief, General Muhidin Ahmed Muse in relation to reports of a prisoner who died in police custody after an alleged torture. He appeared at the Nugal Regional Court on Monday 21 October.
Journalists at Radio Daljir told SJS the police recorded a video of Mr. Tall man pleading guilty and alleging the radio station over bogus news reporting.
“Radio Daljir remains as a reputable news source. The police recorded this video to create embarrassment and confusion to our audience. This is a new level of state propaganda against the independent media,” said one journalist who works at Daljir’s editorial desk who spoke to SJS.
Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) believes that former Radio Daljir director Ahmed Tall man was held against his will in the first place and was forced to re-cant while in the police custody in exchange for his freedom following pressures, a new tool and tactic to silence government critics.
“It is extremely worrying situation that journalists working at Radio Daljir are facing new level of threats coming from Puntland State police,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said “These are actions deliberately intended to weaken the ability of the independent media to report courageously on all matters of public interest.”
SJS calls authorities in Puntland to stop the police violence targeted at the Radio Daljir and give its journalists a safe space to do their work without fear. No journalist should live in fear due to his/her critical reporting.
“Authorities should acknowledge that when the freedom of the press is threatened it is also a threat to democracy. We are calling for Puntland authorities to allow journalists at Radio Daljir to carry out their duties without fear of state prosecution,” adds Mr. Mumin.
Attacks on the free press have recently worsened in Puntland. On 15 October, Police raided privately-owned RTN TV offices in Garowe and threatened journalists. On 14 and 15 September, armed police raided and briefly closed down Radio Daljir in Bosaso. Furthermore, on 22 September, the region’s Information Minister imposed restrictive measures against independent journalists in Puntland.