In Somalia, reporter held incommunicado since Friday

New York, March 14, 2007—A reporter for a leading broadcaster in the capital Mogadishu, has been jailed incommunicado since Friday by Somalia’s Ethiopian-backed transitional government while reporting on a story, local journalists told CPJ.

Hassan Sade Dhaqane of private HornAfrik radio, the country’s first independent broadcaster, was arrested by three security agents while reporting on a security operation by peacekeeping Ugandan troops near Mogadishu’s airport, HornAfrik Co-manager Ali Iman Sharmake told CPJ. Dozens of people have been killed during increasing insurgent attacks against government forces, Ethiopian troops and a newly-deployed African Union force of 1,200 Ugandan soldiers, according to international news reports. The reason for Dhaqane’s arrest remains unknown, according to local journalists.

“The detention of Hassan Sade Dhaqane without charge and without access to a lawyer violates the basic right to due process enshrined in Somalia’s Transitional Federal Charter,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We call on the authorities to either explain why they are holding Dhaqane or release him immediately.”

On the day of his arrest, Dhaqane had informed the station by phone he was being held at a police station near Mogadishu’s seaport, but he was since moved to a prison in the city, Sharmake said.

Dhaqane was among several journalists attacked this week while covering the security situation in Mogadishu. On Monday, reporters Ismail Ali Abdi, Mohammed Ibrahim Raggeh and Mohammed Ibrahim Ali “Ruush” of private Radio Shabelle were attacked by Ethiopian troops while reporting on a story at a government building, according to senior producer Mohammed Abdi Afgoye and the National Union of Somali Journalists. The attack came a day after another Shabelle reporter, Abdirahman Yusuf “Al-Adala,” was beaten by government forces while reporting on the plight of residents fleeing the violence in Mogadishu, Afgoye told CPJ.

On February 19, the transitional government had already ordered three private stations to censor their reporting on government military operations and the flight of civilians from the capital.