Mogadishu police arbitrary detain and threaten journalists covering insecurity in the capital

Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and the Somali Media Association (SOMA) strongly condemn the arbitrary detention, threats and solicitation of bribes by the Mogadishu police against four journalists working for Risaala Media Corporation, which is a member of SOMA network and its journalists are members of SJS, in Mogadishu on Monday 4 July, 2022.

Around 11:00am local time on Monday, military officers attached to Somali navy stopped journalist Abduqadir Osman Indhoy and his cameraman Mohamed Said Nur while they were conducting interviews with Mogadishu fishermen at the Liido beach. The journalists were investigating the effects of the summer monsoons on the fishing sector which also affects food security.  According to the journalists, they were stopped at gunpoint, their equipment confiscated by a navy officer stationed at the beach who threatened to shoot them. Later police officers from Hamarweyne police station arrived and took the pair to a different location and held them for more than an hour at an open space before demanding $30 payment of “fine” from each of them in return for their release which the journalists declined. After contacting SJS and their editor, the journalists were freed and their equipment returned back.

Around 1:00pm local time on Monday, two other journalists from Risaala Media Corporation, Kasim Ibrahim Adani and Abdukadir Hussein Anshur, were briefly detained and threatened with shooting by Hawl-wadag police commissioner, Najib Abdi Abib and his armed officers in Hawl-wadag neighbourhood in Mogadishu. The journalists and their editor told SJS and SOMA that they were interviewing an armed robbery attack victim in the area when the police arrived and confiscated their equipment. They were held at an open place far from the police station at gunpoint as they were ordered to delete their footage. Later in the day the Hawl-wadag police commissioner, Najib Abdi Abib (popularly known as Najib Arab) raided the robbery attack victims’ home and forced one of them to speak on the camera and retract his statement to the journalists. the terrorised male victim was videotaped as he retracted his complaint against the armed robbery attack that took place on Sunday night 3 July. The journalists were freed afterwards.

Early on Monday, Banadir police commissioner, Farhan Qarole, sent his armed guards to look for a Universal TV reporter, Sade Abdi Tahlil, who covered increased armed robbery attacks in the capital. Sade told SJS and SOMA that he did not report to work on Monday after he noticed that Farhan Qarole shared his photo identity and telephone number with the police officers in search for him.

SJS and SOMA are also concerned the summoning of some media directors by the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) on Sunday morning 3 July in which NISA demanded the local media to refrain from criticising the security forces of the government. Using intimidation by summoning and harassment to censor independent and critical coverage should not be accepted.

“From the beginning, we assumed the new administration of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was willing to open the space for the independent media and allow critical coverage. Unfortunately, we are now witnessing a new wave of attacks and intimidation against the journalists and the media. We condemn the arbitrary detention against four Risaala Media Corporation journalists in Mogadishu on Monday as we call for accountability for the officers who involved it,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary-General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said.  “Detaining journalists who cover insecurity incidents in the capital and also terrorising the victims of robbery attack to cover up the growing insecurity and to shun the public complaints, will not solve the security problem in Mogadishu.”

“We strongly condemn the detention and harassment targeted with our member Radio Risaala on Monday. Attacking and detaining journalists just for their reporting will not only trample on press freedom and freedom of expression in Somalia, but it is also a violation against human rights. any officer who involved in this must be held accountable,” Mohamed Osman Makaran, the Secretary-General of the Somali Media Association (SOMA).