On 28th May 2018 protesters were arrested in Laasanood, the administrative capital of Sool region. The Police Commissioner of the region, Abdirisak Mohamed Faarah, said in a press conference“misled children and women made a stone throwing and disturbance in the city.” He confirmed that 57 protestors were arrested.
The regional authorities called the protest illegal and destabilizing the security.
Two journalists have been as well arrested in Lasaanood. Abdirahman Kayse Mohamed, a Bulsho TV reporter, was arrested on 27th May and Mohamed Ahmed Jama, a reporter for SBS TV, was arrested on 28th May. Abdirahman was arrested for news report he sent from Lasanood. The news report is seen by the government as false and destabilizing. It is not clear the reason Mohamed was arrested, but he has been arrested the date the protest has taken place in Laasaanood.
On 29th May the Ministry of Information issued a statement stating that it has banned two television channels, SBS and SOMNEWS, from operating in Somaliland. The Ministry ordered the Police to shut down their offices in Somaliland. The statement said the two televisions “committed acts of political campaigns and clear propaganda war against the Republic of Somaliland.”
The management of one of the televisions who spoke to HRC said they learnt the decision from the media and were not informed of any complaint or pending procedure taken against them.
On 23rd May, a committee chaired by the speaker of the Lower House of the Parliament who is leading a delegation of Somaliland in Laasaanood issued a decision banning unauthorized press conferences and meetings to be held in Sool.
On 15th and 24th May clashed between Somaliland and Puntland State of Somalia happened in Sool region.
The Constitution of Somaliland guarantees the freedom of public demonstrations and freedom of media. Article 32(2) of the Constitution says “every citizen shall have the freedom, in accordance with the law, to organise or participate in any peaceful assembly or demonstration.”
Paragraph 3 of the article further states that “the press and other media are part of the fundamental freedoms of expression and are independent. All acts to subjugate them are prohibited, and a law shall determine their regulation.”
Human Rights Centre requests the government of Somaliland to:
- Release the detained journalists; Abdirahman Kayse Mohamed and Mohamed Ahmed Jama;
- Lift the ban from SBS and SOMnews TV and to follow the due process of law in handling any complaints related to these televisions;
- Release the people detained during the protest that happened in Laasanood on 28th May; and
- Withdraw the decision banning unauthorized press conferences and meetings to be held in Sool.
Guleid Ahmed Jama
Chairperson of Human Rights Centre