Committee to Protect Journalists
Country Report: Somalia
As of December 31, 1998

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Since the last United Nations peacekeeping forces withdrew from Somalia in March 1995, the country has continued its descent into clan warfare. At year's end, international correspondents visited Mogadishu at great risk. But the risk is even greater for local journalists who struggle in a deadly environment to publish small newsletters. Various armed factions operate radio stations to air hard-line propaganda.

The breakaway Somaliland Republic, headed by President Mohammed Ibrahim Egal, has declared its independence, although it is not officially recognized by any governments or international bodies. But recent reprisals against the press sent a troubling message about Egal's respect for freedom of the press. In March, police arrested Hassan Saed Yusuf, editor of the independent Somali-language daily newspaper Jamhurya, and its English-language sister publication, The Republican, on the order of Prosecutor General Hassan Hersi Ali in connection with a Jamhurya editorial reporting that Ali was curtailing press freedom to prevent a debate over leadership in Somaliland.

Yusuf was arrested earlier in the year for "insulting important personalities, circulating false information, and criticizing the leaders of the Republic." At press time, Yusuf--who was interrogated 14 times throughout the year in connection with the Jamhurya editorial--remained in prison. Increasing intolerance toward critical reporting has resulted in more cases being brought against the private press by government officials angered by reporting about state corruption.
Attacks on the Press in the Somalia in 1998
Date Journalist Incident
5/25/98 Hassan Said Yusuf, Jamhuria Imprisoned
3/4/98 Hassan Said Yusuf, Jamhuria Imprisoned
3/4/98 Jamhuria Censored
3/4/98 Yassin Mohamed Ismail, Republican Harassed
3/4/98 Republican Censored

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