Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the closure of one of the main independent TV channels in northwestern Somalia’s self-proclaimed independent state of Somaliland and the arrest of its editor. The attempts by Somaliland’s authorities to silence journalists are becoming increasingly frequent, RSF said.
This week’s closure of Horn Cable TV in Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa, comes just two months after police inflicted similar treatment on another Hargeisa TV channel, Horyaal TV closing it down and arresting its president.Police from Somaliland’s Criminal Affairs Department arrived at Horn Cable TV’s headquarters at around 9 a.m., on 18 November, ordered its staff to shut it down, and arrested its editor, Abdikadir Saleban Asayr. A court in Hargeisa quashed the closure order the next day but ruled that Asayr should be detained provisionally for seven days. The reason for his arrest is not yet clear. But Somaliland’s civil aviation ministry lodged a complaint against Horn Cable TV after it broadcast a report criticizing the management of Hargeisa’s airport and the firing of several of its employees.
“This is the second time in two months that the Somaliland police have shut down an independent TV channel and arrested the person in charge,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “The local authorities crack down very hard on journalists as soon as they question the authorities. We call for Abdikadir Saleban Asayr’s immediate and unconditional release and for Horn Cable TV to be allowed to resume broadcasting.”
As RSF reported at the time, Horyaal TV and Eryal TV were shut down in a similar manner in June when police raided them and ordered them to close. In September Horyaal TV was shut down again and its president, Mohamed Osman Mire Sayid, was arrested. At least five media outlets have been closed and around 20 journalists have been arrested in Somaliland since the start of 2019.
Journalists are still often the victims of arbitrary detention in the country. Freelance journalist Abdulkadir Barre Moallim has been held since 25 September, when he was arrested in Baidoa, the capital of the southwestern Bay region, after he covered a rally by opponents of the region’s president. RSF drew Somali Prime Minister Hassane Ali Khayre’s attention to Moallim’s arbitrary detention and, at a meeting with Khayre in Paris, on 12 November, asked him to intercede to get Moallim’s released.
Somalia is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.