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EU ambassador scolds Somali PM over arrest of journalists

Storyline:National News

The European Union has fired what is perhaps one of its sternest criticisms against the Somali government in recent years accusing it of been averse to criticism and deploying state power to silence critics among them, journalists.

In a video conference call Tuesday with Prime Minister Hassan Khaire, the EU ambassador to Somalia Nicolas Berlanga said he delivered the EU’s message to the PM expressing concern over the arbitrary arrests and detention journalists.

“EU message: “criticism is part of the democratic process. Limitation of Freedom of Expression cannot become another pandemic. If journalists neglect information, prison or detention is not an option,” the ambassador said in a tweet.

Berlanga’s criticism against Somali government comes amid a series of arrests of journalists and suppression of opposition voices including the use of security agencies to block certain politicians from holding any public meetings in the country.

Goobjoog Media Group editor Abdiaziz Ahmed Gurbiye spent three days last week in Central Prison in Mogadishu and was subsequently released on bail over articles criticizing the manner in which the government was handling the COVID-19 outbreak.

Radio Higsi editor Mohamed Abduwaab Abuuja has been in detention without the right to communicate with family or lawyers since March 7, 2020.

The Committee to Protect Journalists and other organisations representing journalists locally and internationally have called for the immediate release of Abuuja.

Cases of repression of journalists also continue in other parts of the country. Sources in Barawe said journalists at Radio Barawe have been ordered by authorities in South West state administration to cease broadcasting in the local Barawani dialect in what amounts to blatant disregard and abuse of not only freedom of expression but also of identity.

Barawani is spoken by a minority community in the coastal town of Barawe and nearby areas.