APRIL 20-28, 2005
Posted: May 4, 2005


Abdirashid Qoransey, Shacab
Abdi Farah Nur, Shacab


Security forces in the autonomous Puntland region attacked the premises of the weekly newspaper Shacab (Voice of the People) in the town of Garowe, breaking the front gate and damaging the editor’s car and other property, according to the newspaper’s editor and local press freedom groups. The same day, security forces arrested Shacab reporter Abdirashid Qoransey in connection with articles criticizing the Puntland authorities. Qoransey was held at a police station for about four hours, but was released after his editor, Abdi Farah Nur, negotiated on his behalf.

The following day, police came looking for Farah, who was not at Shacab‘s office at the time. Farah told CPJ that he went later that day to the police station, where he was arrested and detained for three days. He said police told him that his arrest was in connection with two items published in Shacab: an article suggesting that citizens with complaints about the Puntland government contact their representatives in parliament; and a reader’s letter criticizing the authorities.

On the night of April 23, police returned to Shacab offices and rearrested Qoransey, according to Farah. The following day both men were brought to court in Garowe and charged with inciting the public and insulting President Adde Muse Hirsi. The charges were dismissed and they were released the same day. However, local journalists and press freedom organizations say official harassment of Shacab has continued.

Farah said Information Ministry officials visited the newspaper on April 28 and questioned staff about the newspaper’s license. He said he received a letter from the Information Ministry, dated that day, that warned him against publishing the newspaper without permission and without paying certain taxes. Shacab managers say the newspaper is licensed and that they will pay legally required taxes.