Somaliland arrests journalists, closes 2 TV channels: RSF

2018-05-30 18:47


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The breakaway territory of Somaliland has arrested several journalists and closed two TV stations covering its dispute with the neighbouring Somali region of Puntland, Reporters without Borders (RSF) said on Tuesday.

According to the Somaliland authorities, TV channels SBS and SOMNews have been banned for being "involved in political campaigns" and not maintaining "the neutrality they are supposed to observe", the media watchdog said.

SBS reporter Mohamed Ahmed Jama Bidhanshe was arrested on Tuesday while covering a protest march in Las Anod, the chief town of Sool region in southeastern Somaliland.

This happened two days after Bulsho TV journalist Abdirahman Keyse Tungub was detained there, who also had reported on local discontent over the fighting at the border, RSF said.

Somaliland is a self-declared republic in northern Somalia. It has been de facto independent from the rest of the war-torn country since 1991, but is not recognised internationally.

In recent months, the Sool region has been the theatre of heavy clashes between Somaliland and Puntland, a semi-autonomous part of Somalia.

"We condemn the closure of privately-owned TV stations and we call for the immediate release of these two journalists, who were just doing their job," said Arnaud Froger, head of RSF's Africa desk.

"The already deteriorated security environment for journalists covering this conflict has been compounded in recent weeks by growing, unjustified harassment by the Somaliland authorities. The arbitrary arrests and closures must stop and the freedom to inform must be guaranteed."

Earlier this month, freelance journalist Adam Jama Oogle was detained without charge for nine days after reporting on Facebook that people in Sool wanted Somali unity, RSF said.

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