FILE PHOTO: Puntland police in operation in Garowe. | Photo courtesy/private.
FILE PHOTO: Puntland police in operation in Garowe. | Photo Courtesy/Private.

MOGADISHU, Somalia, 15 October, 2019 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) calls for Puntland State authorities to immediately stop threats targeted to journalists working for the privately-owned independent RTN TV in Garowe and investigate the police officers who raided the TV station’s office on Tuesday 15 October, 2019.

On 9.30am on Tuesday, officers from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) led by officer Ahmed Adawe raided the TV station’s office and harassed the journalists on duty, according to two journalists at the station who spoke to SJS. The officers searched the premises as they looked for the television’s Garowe reporter Abdiqani Ahmed Mohamed who filed a vox-pop news report featuring interviews allegedly criticizing Puntland State president’s attendance at the controversial inauguration of Jubbaland president in Kismayo in the weekend.

According to RTN TV’s Garowe-based news editor, Abdiqani Osman Farah, the CID officers left the TV office without further action after they were asked to bring a written letter of warrant from the police justifying the search.

“After searching the TV premises and could not find the reporter, we have demanded an official warrant letter and they had not one so they left,” editor Abdiqani Osman Farah adds “At around 11:00am the officer Ahmed Adawe phoned me and asked me to report to the police station for questioning to which I refused.”

Abdulaziz Ahmed Barrow, a Nairobi-based RTN TV producer told SJS that their Garowe reporter went in hiding after the raid on the TV office.

“We are worried by the level of threats targeted to our journalists in Garowe and especially against journalist Abdiqani Ahmed Mohamed for conducting the vox-pop interviews,” adds Abdulaziz Ahmed Barrow.

When SJS contacted the CID police officers in Garowe, the phone calls returned unanswered.

Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) condemns the raid on RTN TV office and the threats against its journalists for conducting their normal journalism duty. We call Puntland authorities to immediately investigate the officers responsible for the raid and threats against RTN TV.

“We strongly condemn the raid on RTN TV studio in Garowe and the threats against its reporters,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said “Puntland police should know that journalists have the right to perform their professional activities without being intimidated or threatened.”

“Puntland State authorities should open urgent investigation into its CID officers who raided the RTN TV office and must stop the threats targeting the TV journalists in Garowe,” adds Mr. Mumin.

In a separate development, Hirshabelle State police released freelance TV journalist and member of SJS, Abdiaziz Hassan Moalim (Abdiaziz Folyarey) who was detained in Jowhar for covering a violent public protest on Monday 14 October, 2019.

While SJS welcomes the release of our colleague Abdiaziz, however, we strongly reject the conditions demanding the journalist not to report any news reports deemed critical to the State including protests.

“SJS demands Hirshabelle’s Jowhar Police Commissioner to refrain from the unwarranted and unlawful orders including his instructions to shoot journalists covering street protests which is aimed to frighten and intimidate journalists in Jowhar,” Mr. Mumin says.