Somali journalist arrested in intimidation ploy, says journalists' union

Abdirahman Keyse Tungub

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SULAIMANI – The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemned the detention of a television journalist in Las Anod town of Sool region by Somaliland’s security forces on Monday (May 28) as a ploy to intimidate the local journalists.

On Sunday (May 27), Somaliland police arrested journalist Abdirahman Keyse Tungub, a Bulsho TV reporter in the town of Las Anod. The police informed local journalists that Sool Governor Abdi Khayre Dirir ordered the arrest of the journalist.

The journalist is currently detained at the Police Station in Las Anod. The reason for his arrest was that he had prepared a report on the public’s views of the Tukaraq war between Somaliland and Puntland, and the report was aired by Bulsho TV. The governor of Sool Region has accused the journalists of Las Anod for disseminating reports about “contradictory statements” made by Somaliland officials.

“We call for Abdirahman Keyse Tungub to be released immediately and for the journalists to be allowed to report freely and safely on the matters affecting the Sool region including the conflict in Tukaraq,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. “We condemn the harassment, arbitrary detention and attacks on journalists in Sool region who are doing their jobs.”

The arrest of Abdirahman Keyse Tungub becomes the second journalist arrested in a month in Las Anod. Journalist Adam Jama Oogle (Habeb) was arrested at his home on 14 May 2018 and released without any charges on 23 May.

NUSOJ believes the arrest of journalists by Somaliland authorities aims to send a chilling message to local journalists of the consequences they face in reporting about the conflict between Puntland and Somaliland.

Somaliland, is a self-declared state internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia that comprises the northwestern part of the country.

Puntland, lies at the tip of the Horn of Africa, which self-declared as an autonomous region in 1998.

Tukaraq lies between the two and is claimed by both.

Somalia, in general, is one of the most dangerous and arduous places to work for journalists in the world.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks it 168 out of 180 in its 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

It specifically writes: “Freedom of information in Somalia is undermined by corruption, political violence, the central government’s extreme weakness, and the fact that non-state entities control much of the country. Both the government and the rebel Islamist Al-Shabaab movement persecute journalists. Those who refuse to censor themselves are the targets of bombings or shootings by Al-Shabaab militants, or they are exposed to arbitrary detention and torture.”

“The authorities often close down the media outlets of journalists who do not comply. At least four journalists were killed in connection with their work in 2017, and several others were injured in terrorist attacks,” it added.