New York, January 10, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on authorities in the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland to explain why they have detained Royal Television correspondent Yusuf Ali since Sunday.
Police in the northwestern town of Borama arrested Ali at around 11 a.m. on Sunday without any charges, local journalists told CPJ. He is being detained at Borama Police Station without access to a lawyer, they said. Under Somaliland’s constitution, detention without charge beyond 48 hours is illegal.
Local journalists suspect police arrested Ali after a local non-governmental organization complained about a report Ali aired last week, which claimed the organization misappropriated funds in a local education and water development project. The director-general of the Information Ministry, Faisal Ali Sheekh Moahmed, told CPJ he was not aware of the case but would look into it.
“Yusuf Ali has been held beyond the legal limit for detention without charge. This constitutes intimidation of the press,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. “Authorities must bring charges against Yusuf Ali or release him immediately.”
Royal Television is a relatively new private satellite channel based in London, Royal TV Reporter Mohamed Abdi Boosh told CPJ.
Ali represents the latest in a string of detentions of journalists in Somaliland. Police arrested three journalists last week in the disputed Las Anod region of Somaliland for allegedly supporting youth groups who pose a threat to security in the region, according to local reports. The three — from Horn Cable TV, Universal TV, and Somaliland TV — were released the following day, according to local journalists.