Somalia continues to be one of the most dangerous countries in Africa for media personnel with two more journalists arrested earlier this week for reporting the rape and murder of a woman in Somalia’s north-eastern region Puntland.
Police arrested journalists Khadar Awl Ismail and Abdiqani Ahmed Mohamed, who were working for local radio station Radio Daljir.
The two journalists were arrested after approaching a court in Somalia’s north-eastern region Puntland for a reaction to the case of a woman who had been raped and murdered. Khadar Awl Ismail is the director of Radio Daljir and NUSOJ General Secretary of Information and Human Rights. Abdiqani Ahmed Mohamed works as a reporter and producer at the station.
Radio Daljir had interviewed the victim’s relatives who criticized the court for releasing the accused perpetrators.
On 6 September, Khadar Awl Ismail, Abdiqani Ahmed Mohamed and other local reporters went to the Court of First Instance in Puntland to confront officials with the allegations and ask for a statement. They did not receive an answer but instead, the president of the court ordered their detention.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joined its affiliate, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), in demanding the authorities to drop all charges immediately.
Both journalists were released on bail on 7 September.
According to a 2019 survey, 50 journalists have been killed in the past ten years. Political violence and corruption undermines the freedom to inform in Somalia.
The pressure on journalists can come from many quarters, especially as much of the country is controlled by non-state entities or by autonomous regional governments that either do not or only barely recognize the central government’s authority.
It is not the first time that journalists have been arrested for reporting on a rape case in Somalia. On April 20, police arrested Mukhtar Mohamed Atosh for covering the death of a 14-year old girl after she was raped. He was released on bail after two days in jail.