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Closure of Horyaal24 TV and arrest of its boss heightens fear over press safety in Somaliland


Sunday September 8, 2019

Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) condemns the closure of Horyaal24 TV and the arrest of the TV’s Chairman on Friday 06 September, 2019 and Saturday 07 September, 2019 respectively by Somaliland police in Hargeisa.

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On Friday night 06 September 2019, police from Criminal Investigations Department (CID) raided and shut down Horyaal24 TV headquarters and instructed the staff to leave while taking over the premises. On Saturday morning, the police then detained TV’s Chairman, Mohamed Osman Mire (known as Sayid). The move came following a police interrogation with the TV Chairman on Thursday 05 September, according to Hargeisa-based human rights lawyer Guleid Ahmed Jama and Deputy Chairman of Horyaal24 TV, Said Farah Muse (known as Cagjar) who both spoke to Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS). 

According to Said Farah Muse (Cagjar), Deputy Chairman of Horyaal24 TV, the closure of the TV and the detention of its Chairman comes following series of an awareness program about the growing use of drugs— particularly the use of Khat— among women in Somaliland which Horyaal24 TV broadcasted last week.

“The basic objective of our TV program was to make awareness on the high use of Khat among women and the health effects it could have on addicted persons by interviewing women who consume Khat, health practitioners and also religious scholars,” Said Farah Muse (Cagjar) told Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) “We were however, very clear that a one-minute trailer broadcasted before the program did not include all views and that we have apologized.”

“The State police acted without due process of the law. After shutting down Horyaal24 TV, the police also detained its Chairman. This is against the Somaliland Media Law which clearly outlaws the criminalization of media and journalists due to their reporting,” lawyer Guleid Ahmed Jama told SJS.

There are no formal charges brought against Horyaal24 TV and the chairman. The authorities in Somaliland are yet to comment on the closure of Horyaal24 TV and detention of its Chairman.

Local journalists told Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) that the TV program which featured a group of women in a Khat chewing café (locally known as Marfish) went viral on social media had aggravated the locals who called authorities to act against Horyaal24 TV.

“We condemn the raid on Horyaal24 TV and the detention of its Chairman Mohamed Osman Mire (Sayid). We demand for the immediate and unconditional release of the Chairman and allow the TV resume operations,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said.

“It is the role of the media to report on important topics that affect the public. We strongly reject any acts of silencing against the press; however it should be common interest for both government and media organizations to improve the professionalism of the media,” Mr. Mumin adds.
   



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