Campaign groups condemn media, opposition clamp down in Somaliland

Human rights and media campaign groups have condemned the closure of Horn Cable and arrest of its staff in Somaliland terming it a violation of press freedom.

In separate statements, Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ) and Somaliland Human Rights termed the move by Somaliland authorities an infringement of free space and functioning of the media. They noted the increasing cases of arrests and bans on media houses in Somaliland in the last six months was ‘of great concern’.

“The decision to suspend Horn Cable TV in Somaliland is clear violation against the press freedom and freedom of expression and shows how the authorities in Somaliland are still committed to silence the independent media.” FESOJ Secretary General Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu said, “We call on the authorities in Somaliland to respect the media freedoms and freedom of expression which is key to a more stable and democratic society.” Moalimuu added.

Somaliland Human Rights Centre said Somaliland government had ratcheted up efforts to silence dissent through the closure of media houses and repression of opposition parties.

“It is the first time in Somaliland’s history since the multiparty system was adopted such a high number of senior political leaders are jailed. The unprecedented actions of the government are very worrisome. Political parties have a right to protest. It is a constitutional right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” says Yasmin Omar Haji Mohamoud, the chairperson of Human Rights Centre.

Waddani party secretary-general Khadar Abdi and spokesman Barkhad Jama were arrested Sunday following the announcement of protests by the party scheduled for Monday. Protesters engaged police in running battles Monday in Hargeisa with party leader Abdirahman Irro calling for sustained demonstrations.

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