VOA Somali correspondent in Baidoa. | Photo credit: screen grab from Youtube
VOA Somali correspondent in Baidoa. | Photo credit: screen grab from Youtube.

MOGADISHU, Somalia, 21 April 2020 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest of Voice of America (VOA) correspondent in Baidoa, Mukhtar Mohamed Atosh on Monday 20 April, 2020 and calls for authorities to stop attempts to charge him.

Around 5.30p.m, South West (SW) State police officers in a pickup truck arrested journalist Mukhtar Mohamed Atosh from Baidoa city centre known as “Afar Irdoodka”. He was held at the Criminal Investigation Department’s HQ known as “Barta Dhexe” pending investigations, colleagues and officials told SJS on Tuesday.  Atosh’s arrest follows his 19 April report on the death of a 14-years-old girl allegedly raped on the road between Mogadishu and Baidoa.

SW State’s Minister of Information, Ugas Hassan Abdi has told SJS that Bay Regional Court on Tuesday granted the police to remand the journalist in the prison pending further investigation by the SW State Attorney General. 

The Court’s letter dated 21 April, orders police to hold the journalist in prison indefinitely.  It further accuses the journalist of Articles: 271, 328, 326, 327 of the Somali Penal Code punishable from six months to one year jail term.

SJS calls for the authorities in Baidoa to unconditionally free journalist Mukhtar Mohamed Atosh from detention and stop attempts to charge him.

“Journalism is not a crime and journalists should not be detained for only reporting on issues of public interest,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said “SJS condemns the arbitrary detention of journalist Mukhtar Mohamed Atosh in Baidoa. We call for the authorities to immediately free him and cease attempts to charge him.”

 SJS is extremely concerned by the increasing threats and intimidation targeted to the journalists and media houses covering the recent selection of the members of the second State Assembly of South West State. 

Separately, Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) condemns the beating against three Shabelle Media Network journalists by the Somali police forces on Sunday 19 April in Mogadishu. According to Shabelle Media, the three reporters: Abdinasir Abdirahman Mohamud, Abdikariin Isse Adawe and Fadumo Abduqadir Hassan were returning from an assignment in the evening when the police attacked them in Hodan district.

SJS demands from the Somali Federal Government to unconditionally release Radio Hiigsi editor, Mohamed Abduwahaab Nuur (Abuuja) who is being held incommunicado in Mogadishu since March 7.