SJS condemns raid and closure of Universal TV’s Hargeisa HQ by Somaliland police

 

MOGADISHU, Somalia – 27 June, 2020- Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) strongly condemns the raid and the closure of Universal TV headquarters in Hargeisa by Somaliland police on Saturday 27 June, 2020, the second station shuttered in three days.

Around 1:45 pm (local time), armed police stormed the privately owned independent TV and suspended its live news program on air. The police confiscated mobile phones from the journalists and staff on duty before instructing them to leave the premises, according to two journalists on duty who spoke to SJS and the TV’s director, Mohamed Abi Digale.

“The officers informed us that they were sent by the Minister of Information that our TV license was revoked,” said Mr. Digale.

Somaliland’s Minister of Information, Saleban Yusuf Ali (Kore) has confirmed that the order of closure was issued by himself and accused Universal TV to have refused to live broadcast the nation address by the Somaliland’s president, Muse Bihi Abdi on the 60th anniversary of the Independence Day marked on the 26th June. However the station’s director, Mr. Digale said the TV had live-streamed both speeches of Somaliland president and that of the president of the Federal Government of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo during the Independence Day commemorations.

SJS strongly condemns the use of police force to silence and intimidate independent media in Somaliland. We call for the Somaliland authorities to immediately withdraw the police from Universal TV and Star TV stations and allow both stations to resume operations without condition.

“The raid and closure against Universal TV on Saturday and the Star TV on Thursday is a slap in the face of Somaliland’s democratic process and its Constitution. Independent media houses have the right to select and judge their news beats and programs as they want,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said “We call for Somaliland authorities to immediately withdraw the police from Universal TV and Star TV and permit both stations to resume their operations.” We also call for Somaliland authorities to free Horyaal TV journalist, Jabir Said Duale (Bulshawi) from Erigavo prison where he was remanded on Thursday 25 June, after he was charged with filming a local protest in Erigavo mid this month. (END)