SOMALIA:In Somaliland, TV journalist assaulted by mayor, held three days

JUNE 28, 2006
Posted August 10, 2007 Abdirahman Muse Omar,
Somaliland Television

Omar, a news editor for private broadcaster Somaliland Television in the northern breakaway republic of Somaliland, was assaulted on June 28 by Mayor Hussein Muhammud Jiir after seeking official comments about the police’s expulsion of a family and the destruction of their home in the capital, Hargeysa, according to news reports and local journalists. He was then arrested.

In an interview later published in the leading independent Somaliland Times, Omar said the mayor punched him in the face and kneed him in his hips after attempting to snatch his television camera. The attack was triggered when Omar asked the mayor whether his office was behind the family’s forceful eviction that day. More than 10 people were arrested in clashes with police after the removal of a family of 11 children from the grounds of an abandoned factory in Hargeysa, according to news reports.

Omar was transferred to a police station after more than 10 hours of detention at Hargeysa’s City Hall, he later told Somaliland Times. Jiir pressed charges of “grievous bodily harm,” and demanded a signed letter of apology, which Omar refused, local journalists said.

Omar was released without charge after local rights group negotiated his release. He was the third journalist assaulted by Jiir since 2004 in response to questioning about the management of the city, according to local journalists.