Somaliland police arrests journalist for 2nd time in a year

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Mohamed Adan Dirir has been transferred to the notorious Mandera prision outside Hargeisa, Somaliland's capital.

Harassment and intimidation against journalists have been a major concern for journalists based in Somaliland who have also seen waves of arrests and intimidation by local authorities in recent years.

By Jamal Ibrahim, jamal@alleastafrica.com

HARGEISA – Police in the breakaway northern Somalia republic of Somaliland have arrested a journalist for the second time this year following a report on exam frauds in a schools in the capital, Hargeisa, journalists say.

Mohamed Adan Dirir, an online journalist was arrested last week after he reported that teachers at a private in the city have accepted bribes from students who failed exams in return for putting their names on the exam sheets as having passed.

According to local journalists, the owner of the schools called Nuradin Schools has since reported the journalist to the police which led to his arrest.

Mr. Dirir is currently being held the central prison in Hargeisa, journalists say. No comment could be reached from both police and the owner of the schools.

It’s the second the journalist has been arrested by police this year.

In May, he was arrested by Somaliland’s police after asking the health minister a question critical of the minister’s performance, and implied the minister’s work may have been impaired by alcohol, which is banned in Somaliland.

Angered by the question, the minister Saleban Isse Ahmed has immediately ordered his arrest. He was held without charges in a jail for a month before he was released amid pressure by media watchdogs and foreign embassies, based in Nairobi and Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.

The latest arrest has prompted protests by media watchdogs in the region and called for his immediate release.

No charges have so far been brought against the journalist who is known for his critical reporting against corruption by officials in Somaliland. In recent years, Mr. Dirir, 30 has had several run-ins with local authorities who have subsequently arrested and released him after prosecutors failed to present evidence to back up his charges.

Harassment and intimidation against journalists have been a major concern for journalists based in Somaliland who have also seen waves of arrests and intimidation by local authorities in recent years.

For years, there has been a tense relationship between the government and independent media. Government officials often accuse journalists of supporting and promoting anti-government sentiment, leading to the arrests of dozens of journalists in recent years.

Rights groups and media watchdogs have repeatedly urged Somaliland to ensure that independent media outlets are not harassed, and to allow journalists to practice their profession without fear of retaliation.

(Editing by Judy Maina in Nairobi, Kenya)

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