Harsh Sentences for Four Somali Radio Journalists

Press Freedom

Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the verdicts and sentences that a court passed on four journalists on 1 March, imposing heavy fines and jail terms that seem to justify long periods spent in arbitrary pre-trial detention. All four are now free but a fifth journalist has yet to be tried and is still detained.

Those convicted and sentenced by the Banadir regional court in Mogadishu included Sky FM director Mohamud Mohamed Dahir and Radio Shabelle editor in chief Ahmed Abdi Hassan, who were arrested in August. Hassan was released conditionally on 21 October because his health had deteriorated dramatically in detention but Dahir was still being held at the time of sentencing.

Finding them guilty of “publication or circulation of false, exaggerated, or tendentious news capable of disturbing public order,” the court sentenced them to prison terms equivalent to the time spent in detention. It also imposed fines of 2,000 dollars on Dahir and 500 dollars on Hassan.

Abdimaalik Yusuf Mohamud, the owner of Shabelle Media Network (which owns both Sky FM and Radio Shabelle) was acquitted on charges of “instigation to delinquency” and “instigation to disobey the laws.” But Shabelle Media Network was nonetheless ordered to pay a fine of 10,000 dollars.

Mohamud had been arrested at the same time as Dahir and Hassan and, like Hassan, released conditionally on 21 October.

The fourth journalist tried at the same hearing was Mohamed Abdi Ali of Radio Risaaala, who had been held since 3 January. He was convicted of publishing false information and was fined 500 dollars.

Still awaiting trial is Radio Shabelle editor Mohamed Bashir Hashi, who has been held since 6 September on charges of “attempts against the integrity, independence or unity of the Somali state,” “high treason,” “armed insurrection against the powers of the state,” and the attempted murder of a former parliamentarian whose car exploded. He is facing a possible death sentence.

“We are outraged by the severity and inconsistencies of these verdicts and sentences,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk.

“These proceedings are farcical. The jail terms were imposed simply to justify the long spells spent in pre-trial detention, while the size of the fines and the ridiculous charges against Hashi show that the aim is to persecute and suppress independent media in Somalia, especially Shabelle Media Network’s radio stations.”

Kahn-Sriber added: “We call on the Somali judicial system to overturn these iniquitous verdicts and ensure that Hashi, whose trial is still pending, is guaranteed due process.”

Hashi had already been sentenced to six months in prison or a fine in December 2013 just for interviewing a woman journalist who said she was raped and who was given a six-month suspended jail sentence on a defamation charge, while her alleged attackers were never arrested or questioned.

Mohamud had been given a 12-month jail sentence in the same case for allegedly insulting Somali institutions and defaming officials.

Radio Shabelle continues to be a target of the Somali government. Mohamud, Hassan and Dahir and 16 other employees were arrested when Somalia’s National Security Agency raided Sky FM and Radio Shabelle on 15 August 2014 at the new location they found after the interior ministry forcibly evicted them from their old headquarters in October 2013.

The 16 other employees were released two days after the raid, in which all of the two stations’ equipment was confiscated. But the authorities continued to hold Mohamud, Hassan and Dahir, who said they were tortured so that they would confess to intending to harm the Somali government.

Sky FM and Radio Shabelle are still closed.

Somalia is ranked 172nd out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

Attorney General Says the Move to Close Down Mogadishu Radio Stations Was Legal

DALSAN RADIO

Somali attorney general Dr Ahmed Ali Dahir has said the move to shut down Shabelle and Sky FM by Somali Security forces in the capital Mogadishu was legal

http://allafrica.com/stories/201408220618.html

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Somalia – Detention of 19 Journalists

SHABELLE

The ITUC has strongly backed a protest by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) over the Somali government’s detention of 19 journalists and the closure of independent…

http://allafrica.com/stories/201408261122.html

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 Shabelle Media Network “Much Concerned About” Courts Plots By the Somali Prosecutor’s Office.

SHABELLE

We, Shablle Media Network, are deeply troubled a plot of court case against three members of our by the Somali general prosecutor’s office.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201408281523.html

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Crackdown On Journalists Condemned

SHABELLE

The National Union of Journalists of Great Britain and Ireland (NUJ) has condemned the growing crackdown against journalists and trade union leaders in Somalia, that has included..

 

http://allafrica.com/stories/201409021113.html

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Government Passes Anti-Media Legislation

SHABELLE

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) expresses outrage over the passing of the contentious anti-media legislation that introduced strict media restrictions and heavy.

 http://allafrica.com/stories/201409021112.html

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Media Law Imposes Heavy Fines On Journalists for Breaching “Code of Ethics”

IFEX

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) expresses outrage over the passing of a contentious anti-media legislation that introduces strict media restrictions and heavy.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201409031117.html

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 Dalsan Radio Director Detained

DALSAN RADIO

Somali intelligence agency have detained Dalsan radio director Hassan Ali Gesey and staff manager Abukar Moheydin Hashara today. Their arrest is linked to an order by the interior…

http://allafrica.com/stories/201409031476.html

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 Somali Journalist Arrested After Speaking Out Against Censorship [press release]

CPJ

Somali journalist Hassan Gessey, a radio director at the independent Dalsan Radio, is being held without charge by the National Intelligence and Security Agency after criticizing a.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201409040383.html

 

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NUSOJ Deplores the Arrest of Dalsan Radio Director and Calls for His Unconditional Release

DALSAN RADIO

The National Union of Somali Journalists [NUSOJ] deplores detention of prominent journalist in Mogadishu on Wednesday September 03, 2014 between 09 – 10:00am by the Somali National..

http://allafrica.com/stories/201409040665.html

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 Dalsan Radio Director Hassan Gesey Gets Back His Freedom

DALSAN RADIO

Dalsan Radio Director, Hassan Ali Gesey got his freedom back today following arrest by police yesterday. He was arrested with another staff member of this media organization Mr..

http://allafrica.com/stories/201409050310.html

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Somali Government Regulates Reporting On Al-Shabab

VOA

The Somali government is on the offensive to take more ground from the militant group al-Shabab. And in the capital Mogadishu, the government is putting pressure on local media as.

 http://allafrica.com/stories/201409050440.html

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 Somalia: ‘High Treason’ Charges Faced By Journalists Punishable By Death [press release]

IFEX

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has condemned Somali authorities for superciliously charging three journalists working for a leading independent media network with…

 http://allafrica.com/stories/201409111191.html

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 Somalia: Security Agency Arrests Journalists, Closes Radio Stations After Banning Coverage of Al-Shabaab [press release]

RSF

Taking its fight against the Islamist militia Al-Shabaab to the airwaves, Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) has been arresting journalists and closing news…

http://allafrica.com/stories/201409110904.html

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 Somalia: Somali Stakeholders Submit Complaints On Media Bill

SABAHI

Somali media owners and managers on Sunday (September 14th) submitted formal complaints to President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud about a controversial media law approved by the cabinet.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201409170217.html

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Director of Mustaqbal Radio Arrested

The director of Mustaqbal Radio in Mogadishu is in Hamarweyne Police Station, Mogadishu. Aweys Aar who is one of the staff members of Mustaqbal Radio confirmed the sad news.

Mr. Aar said he was arrested by police officers from Hamarweyne Police Station. However, sources say the police officers suspected of the motive of where the director parked his car and that led to his arrest. He was his own driver at the time when he parked where he parked it.

The senior officials at Hamarweyne Police Station did not give further explanation regarding the arrest of Mustaqbal Radio director, Mr. Ali Baashe.

http://dalsanradio.com/articles/8408/Director-of-Mustaqbal-Radio-Arrested

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 By IFJ

IFJ Demands Immediate Release of Somali Journalists Following Government Attacks On Media Freedom

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the severe and unwarranted action of Somali security forces who last Friday raided and closed independent radio stations in Mogadishu and arrested 19 media workers.

Sixteen of the journalists were subsequently released, but three are still being held. The IFJ has demanded that the three remaining journalists are released immediately and expressed its concern for their safety and well-being amid reports they have been subjected to abuse and torture.

http://www.ifj.org/nc/fr/news-single-view/backpid/248/article/ifj-demands-immediate-release-of-somali-journalists-following-government-attacks-on-media-freedom/

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Reporters sans Frontières (Paris)

19 AUGUST 2014

Three Journalists Tortured While in Detention

PRESS RELEASE

Reporters Without Borders condemns the closures of Mogadishu-based Radio Shabelle and Sky FM and arrests of 19 journalists and employees on 15 August, and the continuing detention and reported torture of the directors of the two radio stations and their owner.

The two stations, both owned by Shabelle Media Network, were closed during raids on the morning of 15 August by members of the National Security Agency (NSA), who made the 19 arrests.

http://en.rsf.org/somalie-three-journalists-tortured-while-19-08-2014,46821.html

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Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)

19 AUGUST 2014

Somalia: Govt Forces Step up Oppressive Raids On Shabelle and Skyfm

By Sh M Network

Mogadishu — Forces from the national intelligence and security agency has raided once more on the premises of Radio Shabelle and Skyfm in Mogadishu. The forces assembled all the staff into one place and dismantled all equipments and loaded them into vehicles they had.

“The forces came at Shabelle premises around 21.30 and forced everyone into one place before they took us of our cellphones and then they ordered us to unfix and load all equipments into cars they had” said of the journalists at the Radio station.

It is only office and house furniture at the station. All other equipments are in the hands of Somali security forces. Earlier in the day, shabelle went on air briefly before it had been taken of air by the same Somali government forces.

http://shabelle.net/?p=28301

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Somalia: Premier Calls Upon the Media to Take Part in the Reconstruction Process

Dalsan Radio (Mogadishu)

19 AUGUST 2014

Somali Prime Minister has met media owners to discuss way forward and build closer ties after recent media crackdown. Somali PM Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed has stressed the need for his government to cooperate with media organizations in the country for reconstruction and reconciliation purpose.

In his speech to the invited local and international Somali media managers the PM said his government will respect the media freedom and expects the press also to respect and abide by the media law in the country.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201408200443.html

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The State and the Media: Arrests and detention of Journalists and Media managers by Somali Security Organs has been on the increase in the last few months. Radio Shabelle Director Muhammad Bashir Hashi was the latest victim and according to some websites he was ”badly beaten” and held for more than 3 days without being charged. In total 7 Journalists have been detained in recent past. Also the office of the UN in New York discussed the matter of arresting journalists.

UN spokesperson Steven R. said they have discussed about the matter with the federal government of Somalia and it will be addressed.  Not only journalists were arrested but in the recent past security forces have closed down radio stations, the last one being Radio Kulmiye which is in Mogadishu.

http://heliwaa.com/?p=342&fb_action_ids=1524626407773527&fb_action_types=news.publishes&fb_ref=pub-standard

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