Reporters Without Borders welcomes the release late yesterday of Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, the publisher of the Somaliland privately-owned daily Haatuf, Ali Abdi Dini, its editor, and Mohamed Omar Sheikh Ibrahim, one of its journalists. They had been detained since January because of an article about corruption in the president’s immediate circle.
07.02.2005- Somaliland daily’s imprisoned executives moved to provincial jail
Reporters Without Borders today reiterated its appeal to the authorities in the northern breakaway state of Somaliland to release three newspaper journalists who have been held for several weeks and have just been moved from the Somaliland capital of Hargeisa to a provincial prison.
“The Somaliland government’s inflexibility is dangerous,” the press freedom organisation said. “It shows that the authorities are ready to commit any kind of abuse when journalists criticise the president and his associates. This aggressive use of the police and judicial system is liable to undermine the credibility of all the efforts since 1991 to turn Somaliland into a democratic enclave within Somalia.”
The publisher of the privately-owned, Hargeisa-based daily Haatuf, Yusuf Gabobe, and his editor, Ali Abdi Dini, were due to have appeared before a regional court in Hargeisa on 4 February, but were transferred to a prison in Mandera, a small locality between Hargeisa and the coastal town of Berbera. They had previously been held at Hargeisa police headquarters since their arrest on 2 January.
Haatuf’s correspondent in Borame, Mohamed Omar, who was arrested at his home on 14 January and detained in the Kodbur police station in Hargeisa, has also been taken to Mandera. According to the staff of Haatuf, Gabobe is in poor health and Mandera does not have the medical facilities he needs.
04.01.2007 Newspaper executives arrested in Somaliland, radio reporter arrested in Baidoa
Reporters Without Borders today condemned arrests of journalists in the past three days in both the northern breakaway state of Somaliland and in the southwestern city of Baidoa, where the transitional federal government has its seat. Three executives of the Hargeisa-based independent daily Haatuf have been arrested in Somaliland. Hussein Mohammed Abikar of the privately-owned Voice of the Holy Quran radio station has been arrested in Baidoa.
“The fall of the Islamic Courts was supposed to usher in an era of peace and democracy in Somalia, so we are stunned to see the new year begin with a journalist being abducted again by government militias in Baidoa, while a newspaper known for being critical has been shut down in Somaliland and its executives thrown in prison,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, whose powers have been increased by the state of emergency, must ensure that Abikar is quickly freed and that his followers respect the press, while the Somaliland government must release Haatuf’s management and allow this newspaper to resume publishing without any further impediments,” the press freedom organisation added.
Police stormed into the offices of Haatuf in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, on the afternoon of 2 January and arrested publisher Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, editor Ali Abdi Dini and chief financial officer Hussein Kalif Abdullahi, who was beaten while he was being taken to the police station. The authorities have not yet explained why they were arrested or why they are still being held.
Abikar, the Voice of the Holy Quran’s correspondent for the Lower Shabelle region, was arrested in Baidoa on 1 January by forces loyal to the transitional federal government, who seized his journalistic material. It is not known where he is being held.
The Reporters Without Borders partner organisation in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), said Abikar was reportedly suspected of spying. He was arrested once before in the district of Diinsor and his material was confiscated on that occasion as well. Following his first arrest, he was freed as a result of the intervention of the deputy defence minister.
Reporters Without Borders meanwhile hails NUSOJ’s action in joining with most of Somalia’s media and journalists’ organisations on 2 January to issue an appeal to the transitional federal government to respect press freedom. Reporters Without Borders endorses the appeal and reaffirms its support for Somali journalists who are committed to the principles of democracy and equity.