Police raid, close independent radio station in Puntland

Nairobi, June 30 2016 — Authorities in the Puntland region of Somalia should immediately reopen an independent radio station closed in a police raid and ensure its journalists’ safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Police armed with assault rifles raided the offices of Radio Daljir on June 23 and closed the station’s offices, silencing its broadcasts, according to media reports and a statement from the U.S. mission in Somalia. Radio Daljir managing director Jama Abshir told CPJ today that anonymous callers have threatened the station’s journalists with death in recent days.

Puntland news websites said the Ministry of Information’s order to close Radio Daljir followed the station’s June 21 interview with Abdisamad Mohamed Galan, the former governor of the Bari administrative region, where Puntland’s commercial hub, Bossasso, is located. Abdisamad in recent months has led an armed rebellion against the Puntland government since Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali fired him from his post in May 2016. In the interview with Radio Daljir, Abdisamad vowed to “liberate Puntland,” according to news reports.

After that interview aired, Puntland Information Minister Mohamud Hassan So’adde threatened journalists who interview “terrorist elements” with “bullets,” according to media reports.

“Raiding radio stations and threatening journalists with violence for doing their jobs is the behavior of thugs, not government officials accountable to the rule of law,” said CPJ Senior Africa Research Associate Kerry Paterson. “Authorities in Puntland should allow Radio Daljir back on the air immediately and thoroughly investigate any threats made against its staff.”

Puntland is a semi-autonomous region of Somalia with its own government under Somalia’s federal system. Journalists have frequently been the target of violence in the region. In May 2011, an unexploded bomb was found in front of Radio Daljir’s gate, the Somali journalists’ union reported. In August 2010, unidentified assailants threw a grenade at Radio Daljir‘s offices.

On September 14, 2011, unknown assailants shot and injured Radio Galkayo journalist Horroyo Abdulkadir after she left the station. On September 22 that year, unidentified gunmen shot and wounded Radio Codka Nabdda (Voice of Peace) reporter Hassan Mohamed Ali at a tea shop just outside the station, local journalists told CPJ at the time.