Media censored with impunity in Puntland

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Reporters Without Borders is worried about freedom of information in the autonomous northeastern region of Puntland, where four news websites have been blocked and journalists have been threatened since the start of December.

The four sites – Puntlandnow, Puntlandtoday, Galgalanews and Puntlander – were blocked by Golis Telecom Somalia, Puntland’s biggest telecom company. Puntlandnow’s owner said the closure order came directly from the government but Golis Telecom refused to confirm this when contacted by RWB.

Accompanied by soldiers, police chief Ahmed Abdullahi Samatar stormed into Radio Garowe, a station based in Puntland’s capital, Garowe, on 7 December and cut short the news programme presented by Ali Abdi Du’alle, threatening him with arrest, after he broadcast a report about a protest against a government tax.

“The attitude of the Puntland authorities is not only worrying but also very disappointing, said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk. The Puntland police recently said the attacks on journalists by the Islamist armed group Al-Shabaab should not go unpunished. Perhaps the Puntland authorities should begin by respecting media freedom themselves.”

Puntland’s journalists had hoped they would be allowed more freedom under President Abdiwali Ali Gas, a Harvard graduate and former professor of economics at the University of Buffalo, New York, but they have been deeply disappointed. All opposition criticism or comments are systematically silenced without any sign of concern from the president.

Somalia is ranked 176th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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