The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has criticised the security forces of Somalia for abusing their power and the law by raiding and closing independent radio stations and arresting journalists in the wildest media attack.

Radio Shabelle and SkyFM, both owned by independent media company Shabelle Media Network, were shut down by heavily armed security forces on Friday morning. In the raid, eight journalists including Shabelle chairman Abdimalik Yusuf Mohamud, were arrested.

This action by the State forces is believed to be retaliation for reports aired by both stations, criticising President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s responses in an interview with US-based PBS television while he was in the USA for the US-Africa Leaders Summit. The president’s response to questions about attacks on independent media, cited Al-Shabaab’s “infiltration” in some media houses.

“We deplore the raid and closure of Radio Shabelle and SkyFM and the arrest of their journalists,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. “We stand for and defend media freedom and freedom of expression and clearly consider this a flagrant attack on freedom of expression and freedom of speech”.

International non-profit media organisation, Reporters Without Borders, also lambasted what it called “disgraceful and totally unacceptable”treatment of journalists.

“The reaction of the Somali authorities is out of all proportion,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk, “We are in the presence of arbitrary mass arrests, confirmed reports of torture and the illegal closure of two radio stations. We call on the Somali authorities to release these three journalists at once and to guarantee respect of their fundamental rights before the country’s courts.”

Source: National Union of Somali Journalists