Ali Taliye Abdi (left) and Mohamed Yasin (right) are among four journalists from the minority journalists facing threats from Hirshabelle
Ali Taliye Abdi (left) and Mohamed Yasin (right) are among four journalists from the minority journalists facing threats from Hirshabelle. | PHOTO CREDIT/SJS.

MOGADISHU, Somalia, 18 November – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and the Somali Media Association (SOMA) express their concern about the recent threats and intimidation against minority journalists covering complaints related to the forthcoming Federal Parliament’s Lower House elections.

SJS and SOMA have documented four incidents against journalists from the Bantu minority group covering the grievances regarding the distribution of parliamentary clan seats in Hirshabelle State. Known state officials are the main perpetrators of these violations.

On 8 November, journalist Ali Taliye Abdi was summoned by police officers and threatened him with harsh consequences following his coverage of a press conference by the Shiidle clan elders who criticised the Hirshabelle State president, Ali Gudlawe of intervention into the parliamentary seats allocated to the minority clans of Bantu.

Another Mogadishu-based reporter has also received threatening calls after he covered a similar event by a group of Shiidle clan elders held in Mogadishu last week.

Dalsan TV reporter, Mohamed Yasin Mahdi, who also covers for City FM, has been banned from reporting since 18 September after he reported the scuffle at the Hirshabelle Parliament Hall that resulted the postponement of Upper House election in Jowhar. Officials at the Hirshabelle presidency had informed the journalist that his TV was banned from Jowhar.

A female radio reporter has told SJS that she was threatened with “death and rape” after she interviewed a local elder who criticized the regional state president over suppression of local minority clans.

SJS and SOMA remind Hirshabelle officials to explicitly recognise that violence against journalists and – particularly those from minority community – constitute a violation against international human rights standards and the rights preserved in the Somali Constitution. Any officer responsible for these threats should be held accountable.

“It is extremely concerning that journalists covering election disputes and those reporting on complaints against state officials are particularly targeted in Jowhar,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) “We strongly condemn these violations that are particularly targeted with journalists from marginalised communities and we call for the Hirshabelle authorities to carry out prompt investigations into the latest incidents and allow the affected group of journalists to carry out the job without fear of repression.”

“Targeting journalists and threatening them just because of the stories they report is unacceptable. We call for Hirshabelle state officials to investigate their officers who are committing these serious violations against press freedom,” Mohamed Osman Makaran, the Secretary General of Somali Media Association (SOMA) said “Journalists should be able to acquire the information they need and report independently even if the news reporting does not favor authorities.”