Somaliland troops shut down main TV news channel in media crackdown
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) vigorously condemns the raid against the privately-owned HORYAAL 24 TV headquarters in Hargeisa by Somaliland security forces on Friday evening, 6th September 2019.
Journalists in Hargeisa confirmed to NUSOJ that forces led by the Somaliland’s Crimes Investigations Department (CID) chief Dahir Muse raided the premises of the station, shut down the TV while on live transmission and ordered all journalists on duty to stop the broadcasting and leave the premises.
As the private channel went off the air at around 6:00 p.m. local time, Muse said he had no court warrant for the closure of the station, and notified the media workers that no equipment can be taken away from the compound.
The shutdown happened without prior notice or court letter, said one of the journalists who witnessed the violent action by the security forces of Somaliland against the TV office.
No official reason was given for the closure, but the journalists believe it may be linked to a recent report on women who spend their time consuming or chewing Khat, the narcotic stimulant leaf in a house in Hargeisa. The news report aired by the local TV is said to have irritated the top leadership of Somaliland, arguing that it was an “affront” to the women’s dignity.
“We strongly condemn the violent act on the raid by the police against HORYAAL 24 TV and this indeed shows blatant disregard for freedom of the media in Somaliland,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
This is the second time, HORYAAL 24 TV to be raided and shut down in this year. On 18th June 2019, Somaliland’s Ministry of Information ordered the closure of the television station over allegations of interfering in security and sovereignty of Somaliland.
On September 4, 2019, Marodi-Jeeh regional court in Hargeisa city ordered the blockage of the independent news website “Hadhwanaag.ca”. This followed after the court said the website has published a report which accuses the Governor of the Central Bank of Somaliland, Ali Ibrahim Jama (Baghdadi) “misuse of public money”.
NUSOJ expresses grave concern about widening crackdown on media in Somaliland, calling on local authorities to respect fundamental press freedom.
“We call on the Somaliland Government to allow the television station to resume broadcasting with immediate effect and without any form of hindrance or restrictions,” he added.
The continuing media crackdown and closure of media stations and journalists is jeopardizing press freedom and freedom of expressions which are fundamental core elements of the enjoyment of basic human rights in Somaliland.