15 June 2012

Somalia: Mission Journal - Somaliland's Press Harassed, Disappointed

press release

"I'm free but I don't feel free," said Mohamed Abdi Urad, chief editor of Yool, a critical weekly published in the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland.

Mohamed had just been released on May 22 after a week in detention at Hargeisa Central Police Station.

His crime? "I have no idea," he said. Mohamed had attempted to cover a deadly skirmish between civilians and a military unit over a land dispute in the eastern part of the capital, Hargeisa. "The Interior Minister just saw me walking towards the scene and ordered his men to arrest me," he said. A few days later, police released Mohamed unconditionally and without charge.

Arbitrary arrests and other forms of intimidation have become the order of the day for Somaliland's press. Although they had hopes for greater media freedom under the leadership of President Ahmed Mohamoud Silyano, who was elected in June 2010, conditions have deteriorated under his government to the worst levels since Somaliland declared itself an independent republic in 1991, local journalists told me.

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