Somali police today handcuffed and beaten two local radio reporters in Mogadishu and barred a dozen of other journalists from independently reporting a news event, journalists told Horn Globe News.
Said Warsame Sabriye and Abdullahi Omar Abdi, both freelancers working with the local privately-owned Radio Kulmiye in Mogadishu were stopped by police officers near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs around K5 (Zobbe Area) and were ordered to lie down to the ground on gunpoint before they were handcuffed and beaten.
The two journalists were on assignment to report on the aftermath of Mogadishu city lock down on Monday, according to a colleague Ahmed Ali who spoke to Horn Globe News.
“The two reporters were interviewing people affected by the city lock down. Armed police came and started to harass them and at gun point, they were ordered to lie down and were handcuffed. They were also beaten,” said Ahmed Ali.
Feisal Omar, a Mogadishu-based photographer working with Reuters said the two reporters were brutally beaten and their hands tied up.
“Somali police forces beat brutally and tied up Said Warsame Sabriye and Abdulahi Omar Abdi,” he said.
The reporters’ equipment — a radio voice recorder and a digital camera were confiscated by the police.
Journalists barred from reporting
In a separate incident, a dozen of local journalists were barred from attending a news event in which Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire laid foundation stone for a Qatar-funded new road construction in Mogadishu.
Seynab Xaadow, a news reporter at the independent Somali Cable TV who was among the barred reporters said that a senior staff at the President’s Office invited them, but eventually after taking over the event, without further explanation the communication team from the Prime Minister’s Office instructed journalists to leave the venue.
“We were called 6am to attend the event. We waited until 1pm when a communication officer from the Prime Minister’s Office arrived and informed members of the independent press to leave,” she told Horn Globe News.
The government-owned SNTV was allowed to report the event and when the journalists at the scene complained, they were threatened by officers.
The reporters later gave a presser condemning the restrictions and called for the press freedom activists and government officials to intervene.
They said culture of harassment, threats and even espionage against journalists operating in the country has been common during the past two years.
“We have been encountering these issues in the past two years. The top offices have regularly blocked independent journalists. It first started at the Presidential Office and then officials at the Office of the Prime Minister followed suit the same,” said Abdiaziz Ibrahim Ahmed (also known as Abdiaziz OK) of the UK-based satellite Universal TV.
Censorship in action
Journalists particularly complained about increasing censorship by members of the press team of the Prime Minister Khaire’s Office who forcibly instruct media houses to broadcast pre-edited clips instead of airing their journalists’ original content.
“It is an attempt to conceal the facts because they tell us to use video clips edited by their press offices’ staff,” Abdiaziz OK tells Horn Globe News.
“The problem is that independent journalists are restricted from witnessing the news events. They have set up news production teams who edit in a way they think appropriate to the government officials and then force media outlets to broadcast those contents,” journalist Ali Aden Mumin, a reporter for the privately-owned Goobjoog TV pointed.
On Februry 7, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, whose government is rated as the worst oppressor of freedom of speech in Somalia, instigated a new hostility against journalists by blaming them for creating what he called “sensational news” to draw attention of their audience. .