Three Somaliland journalists detained in one week

Somaliland security forces on February 20, 2017, arrested Mohamed Baashe Hassan, a journalist for the independent broadcaster Star TV, in Hargeisa, the capital of the semi-autonomous region.

Police arrested Mohamed at roughly 10:30 p.m., Guleid Ahmed Jama, the chairman of the Human Rights Centre, a regional advocacy group, reported in a statement carried by Somaliland news websites. Mohamed had attended a forum to commemorate the Somaliland National Youth Day earlier that day, and had participated in a panel in which he criticized the process by which the United Arab Emirates was granted permission to build a military base in Somaliland. Mohamed remains in state custody

Mohamed was at least the third journalist to be arrested in Somaliland in a week. Police on February 19 detained Ahmed Abubakar, director general of the broadcaster Universal TV, at the airport in Hargeisa while the journalist was in transit from the Somali capital Mogadishu to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, according to press freedom advocates.

Yahye Mohamed, executive director of the Somaliland Journalists Association, told the Committee to Protect Journalists that Abubakar was released the following day, and that it remained unclear why he had been detained.

On February 15, Abdimalik Muse Coldoon, an independent journalist and blogger, was detained at the airport in Hargeisa shortly after returning from Mogadishu, where he had met the newly elected president of Somalia and appeared in a video endorsing the Somali election, according to news reports and journalists in Hargeisa who spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. Abdimalik is still jailed, the journalists said.

Authorities in Somaliland, a breakaway territory of Somalia, fiercely oppose any public sentiment favoring reunification with Somalia, and routinely arrest journalists and others who express such views.