Case   |   Somalia

Journalists jailed for covering protest in Somaliland

Police arrested four journalists on December 3, 2013, and detained them for nearly a week for covering a peaceful protest in the capital of the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland, according to local journalists and human rights organizations.

Police arrested Saed Khadar, head of news for the private Bulsho TV; Abdisalan Abdirashid, a reporter for the station; Hassan Maal, a cameraman for Universal TV; and Abdiaziz Bashir, a reporter for the news website Hadhwanaag. The journalists were held at the Central Police Station in Hargeisa on charges of holding an illegal protest, the same sources said.

On December 5, 2013, the Hargeisa Regional Court remanded the four journalists to prison to allow the police more time for investigations, the Somaliland-based Human Rights Centre reported.

Police also beat and confiscated the camera of Foore newspaper reporter Abdirashid Sheikh Abdiwahaab who had taken photographs in the Hargeisa courtroom, local journalists told CPJ. Abdirashid did not sustain any serious injuries and the camera was returned after the court proceedings. The journalists were released on bail on December 9, 2013. A court date was pending.

The protest, which had been staged by journalists, was in connection with the release of a police officer alleged to have attacked the Hargeisa offices of the independent Hubaal newspaper on April 24, 2013, local journalists told CPJ.

Two masked gunmen had raided the paper's offices and fired at Mohamed Ahmed Jama, the paper's manager, according to the former chairman of the board of Hubaal Media Network. Mohamed's arm and finger was broken, and he and other employees subdued one of the gunmen, local journalists told CPJ. The other gunman escaped.

The gunman was recognized by a government official as a police officer, according to news reports, but was released in December without charge. Hubaal journalists said they suspected the attack was in connection with a series of articles critical of the administration of Somaliland President Ahmed M. Mahmoud.

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