Somali protesters march in Mogadishu, taking to the streets for a second day. (AP/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
Somali protesters march in Mogadishu, taking to the streets for a second day. (AP/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

Somali journalists arrested for covering protests

New York, June 14, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a growing number of detentions by the Somali government’s security forces against journalists covering weeklong protests in the KM4 area of the capital, Mogadishu. On Monday morning, security agents arrested 20-year-old reporter Mohamed Amin, of the privately owned Radio Kulmiye. He had been covering ongoing protests that started last Friday. These protests had erupted in Mogadishu following the announcement to ouster the popular prime minister, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Radio Kulmiye Deputy Director Mohamed Odowa told CPJ. 

At 10:30 a.m. this morning, security agents arrested another Radio Kulmiye reporter, Ahmed Ali Kaahiye, along with Abdifatah Mohamed Hashi, a journalist from the popular Somali website Keymedia. Both were arrested while covering the protests. Security agents released all three journalists with no charges this evening, local journalists told CPJ.

“The detention of journalists trying to cover protests is nothing but censorship and must stop,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. The Somali government must adhere to its charter which protects freedom of expression.”

This particular moment of conflict in Somalia started on June 9, when the Somali government agreed on a compromise that extends the transitional government term for one more year but gets rid of Prime Minister Mohamed. Hundreds of civilians and government troops protested the decision to remove the prime minister, claiming he was an honest, and efficient politician, The New York Times reported.

On June 4, 15 security agents from the city’s Wajadir district raided the independent Jubba Radio station, ordered the station off the air and detained its Head of Programs, Muktaar Mohamed Atosh and the station’s security chief, Ibrahim Hassan, local journalists told CPJ. The security agents accused the station of publishing false news about a security breach in Wajadir. The agents later discovered, however, that they had targeted the wrong radio station and released Atosh and Hassan the same day. Jubba Radio resumed broadcasting around 1 p.m. Jubba Radio used to operate in the southern town of Baidoa, with programs in local dialects before members of the Somali insurgent group Al-Shabaab looted the station, compelling the staff to flee this year to Mogadishu, local journalists told CPJ.