New York, –Authorities in the semi-autonomous region of Somaliland should immediately release Mohamed Adan Dirir, the editor of the online news portal Horseed Media, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Mohamed has been jailed without charge since Somaliland Health Minister Saleban Isee ordered police to arrest him after he asked a question at a May 24 press conference.
Guleid Ahmad Jama, chairman of the Human Rights Center in Somaliland, told CPJ that Mohamed’s question was critical of the minister’s performance, and implied the minister’s work may have been impaired by alcohol, which is banned in Somaliland. The news website Alleastafrica.com reported that Saleban was angered by Mohamed’s question, and promptly ordered police to arrest the journalist. Guleid said Mohamed was detained without charge in the Criminal Investigation Department in the capital Hargeisa.
The Somaliland constitution requires authorities to charge or release suspects within 48 hours of their arrest.
“Mohamed Adan Dirir’s detention without charge flies in the face of his constitutional rights and suggests that this government’s most senior officials believe themselves above questioning,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. “Authorities should release Mohamed immediately and stop trying to prevent journalists from doing their work.”
Somaliland Information Minister Osman Abdullahi Sahardid did not respond to CPJ’s phone calls or text message seeking comment.
Guleid told CPJ that the Somaliland government’s attempts to suppress the media are increasing. In recent months, CPJ has documented the arrest and detention of multiple journalists in the territory, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991.