Government bans BBC from broadcasting in Somaliland as attack on media freedom goes on

News Politics Somalia Somaliland

Media freedom in Somaliland continue to diminish after the government announced a ban on broadcasts by the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Somaliland Information Minister Saleban Yusuf Ali Koore told reporters Tuesday that BBC broadcasts have reduced the identity and dignity of the self-declared independent nation.

The minister, speaking in the Somaliland capital of Hargeisa, said that after long discussions, authorities decided to ban the BBC on the grounds that the network has lost its neutrality and is acting against the independence of Somaliland.

He said the ban would go into effect immediately.

Koore said the BBC fails to recognize that Somaliland is a democratic country that has stood on its feet for the last 31 years, with multiple presidential and parliamentary elections.

The ban on BBC comes at a time the government has launched a crackdown on journalists perceived to be leaning towards the opposition.

In April, several journalists were arrested and held incommunicado for weeks after they reported about the protests by inmates at a prison in Hargeisa.

In early June, police arrested journalists covering streed demonstrations called by the opposition parties to push the government of President Muse Bihi to call for elections in November.

Somaliland is a former British protectorate and breakaway region of northern Somalia that declared independence in 1991 after Somalia descended into a civil war.

Attack on journalists

In Somalia, meanwhile, journalists and media houses are facing new challenges to their daily activities.

On July 18, a reporter and a cameraman working for Arlaadi media, a Mogadishu radio and TV station, were arrested by security forces, according to station director Ahmed Ali Nuur.

Nuur said the journalist and photographer were attacked, fired at with live bullets, beaten and arrested. Their equipment was taken, and some of it destroyed. Nuur said no information has been provided as to why the men were attacked, but the journalists deserve justice.

Abshir Mohamed Nur Farasa, one of the journalists who was assaulted, said he was reporting on street damage caused by recent rains in Mogadishu when he was beaten at gunpoint by security officers. He said he was not told why he and the photographer were being attacked. After they were beaten, Farasa said, the officers took the cameraman to the police station and destroyed his equipment.

Somali police spokesman Abdifatah Adan Hassan said that the police took immediate action after the incident and arrested one of the people who assaulted the journalists. Another is still on the loose.

Hassan said it is possible that individuals dressed in security forces uniforms are creating problems in Wadajir district. He said that after the attack, he spoke with Arlaadi media and the police commissioner, and an individual involved was jailed in Wadajir.

Somalia is one of deadliest countries for journalists in the world, with more than 50 media workers killed since 2010. Reporters Without Borders ranks Somalia as the most dangerous country for journalists in Africa.

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