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Somaliland arrests journalist for questioning minister

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 Judy Maina, judy.maina@alleastafrica.com

NAIROBI – Police in the breakaway northern Somalia republic of Somaliland have arrested a journalist after asking the health minister a question about his work attendance problems that frustrated many including patients seeking medical attention abroad who subsequently missed important appointments with the minister.

According to officials, Mohamed Adan Dirir, the editor of the online portal www.horseednews.com was arrested last week after the minister Saleban Isse Ahmed who was apparently angered by the question ordered his arrest last week.

His arrest prompted criticism by media watchdogs in the region that have condemned the arrest, calling it ‘unjustifiable’.

Jamal Ibrahim, the chairman of Hargeisa Media House, a local media watchdog, based in Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital has warned that the journalist’s arrest raised censorship specter in the enclave where journalists are routinely arrested by security forces.

He called for the immediate release of the journalist who is being held at the central prison in Hargeisa.

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.

Somaliland officials were not available for comment.

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.

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