Somaliland journalist detained over critical coverage of police

New York, April 14, 2017 — Somaliland authorities should immediately release jailed Hangool News journalist Abdirahman Arab Da’ud and cease intimidation of other members of the media, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Somaliland police arrested Abdirahman on April 11, 2017, according to Hargeisa-based journalist Khadar Nouh and Guleid Ahmed Jama, chairperson of the Human Rights Center in Somaliland.

“It is believed that he is arrested for a news article accusing the police commissioner [Abdillahi Fadal Iman] of nepotism and clanism,” Guleid told CPJ. The online article was published on the Hangool News website on the same day that Abdirahman was arrested in a police raid on the Hangool News offices.

“Journalists in Somaliland must be able to operate freely and should not face intimidation by police or anyone else,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. “Criticism of those in authority is no reason for arrest.”

The Somaliland police, Somaliland Attorney General Hasan Ahmed Hasan, and Somaliland Minister of Information Osman Abdillahi Sahardid did not respond to CPJ’s repeated phone calls. CPJ could not determine whether Abdirahman has been charged with a crime or whether he has appeared in court.

On April 13, Somaliland police detained three journalists covering a demonstration in Hargeisa, according to Hargeisa News. They were released that same day, according to a tweet by Guleid.

In recent months, Somaliland authorities have detained and released multiple journalists, according to CPJ research. Journalists and others in the breakaway territory of Somalia who express views favoring reunification with Somalia are routinely arrested.