Human Rights Centre condemns the closure of Star Television by the government of Somaliland. On 25th June, the Police in Hargeisa raided the headquarters of the television in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. The Police prevented the staff to enter and ordered all those inside to leave.
There was no court warrant issued by a court shown to the management of the television. Furthermore, there is no written document of any kind communicated to the management of the television or made public, according to multiple sources who talked to Human Rights Centre including the management of the television, journalists, Somaliland Journalists Association and government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
So far no government official spoke public about the reasons and legality of the closure. Reliable sources in the judiciary confirmed to Human Rights Centre that there was no case filed with the courts before the closure.
“This is not the first time the Police raided and closed a media house without due process of law. It became a common occurrence that intimidates the private media, suppresses freedom of media and undermines the constitutionally guarantees freedoms and rights,” says Yasmin Omar Haji Mohamoud, the chairperson of Human Rights Centre.
The Constitution of Somaliland prohibits all acts that subjugate the media, as stipulated in article 32(3). Article 21(2) says: “the articles which relate to fundamental rights and freedoms shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the international conventions on human rights and also with the international laws referred to in this Constitution.” Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’
“The government of Somaliland violated its own constitution and the international human rights laws referred to in the constitution as applicable to Somaliland. We call on the government to stop the continuous repression of media and critical voices,” Yasmin Added.
Human Rights Centre calls on the government of Somaliland to:
1. Lift the Police from the office of Star Television and allow the resumption of its operations without interference;
2. Respect freedom of media and stop the illegal closures and detention of journalists;
3. Reform the police and make it an independent and impartial institution that respects fundamental freedoms and human rights.