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Amnesty International details Puntland’s persecution of journalists

Nairobi (SD) – Amnesty International said in a released statement said that Puntland state government had increased its crackdown on journalists in recent months.

Amnesty International said four journalists had been arbitrarily arrested in Garowe and Bossaso in the past two and a half months, which raises concerns about media freedom in Somalia.

“The spike in arrests of journalists in Puntland shows an escalating crackdown on media freedom. These arrests will have a chilling effect on the work of journalists before, during and after the election,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.

Amnesty International says Puntland should drop the false allegations against journalist Kilwe Adan Farah and release him immediately and unconditionally.

“Puntland authorities must drop all the baseless charges against Kilwe Adan Farah and immediately and unconditionally release him from detention. They must also stop harassing and intimidating other journalists, including by subjecting them to military trials in violation of international human rights law,” said Deprose Muchena.

Amnesty International presented and detailed abuses against journalists including those recently detained by the regional administration.

“Kilwe Adan Farah, a freelance journalist, has been in detention since 27 December 2020, when he was arrested by Puntland Intelligence Agency (PISA) officers, a day after covering protest in Garowe town against what demonstrators said was government mismanagement of the local currency. On 22 February, police arrested freelance journalist Ahmed Botan Arab in Bossaso town. His arrest came after he posted video interviews on his Facebook page showing some residents of Bossaso commenting on a speech Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni had made the previous day.” said Amnesty.

Adding “On 25 February, another journalist, Abdifatah Abdullahi Farah, also known as “Jiib”, was arrested by police officers at his office in Garowe in connection with his coverage of the same presidential speech. Another journalist, Ahmed Botan, was arrested and detained at Bossaso police station for two days and released without charge on 24 February after clan elders intervened on his behalf.”

Amnesty International has repeatedly stated that Somali journalists are working in dangerous situations, and desperately need the support and the protection of Somali authorities.

“The arrests are a threat to the work of journalists, media freedom and the right to freedom of expression. Authorities must bring this practice to an end, and respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of everyone and media freedom.” concluded Amnesty International.

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