Wednesday March 27, 2019
Somali soldiers are on patrol at Sanguuni military base, about 450 km south of Mogadishu, Somalia. Crédit : Mohamed ABDIWAHAB / AFP
Without Borders (RSF) hails the unprecedented arrest of two Somali
soldiers on charges of torturing and threatening two reporters, and
urges the authorities to systematically punish all those responsible for
crimes of violence against journalists in what is one of Africa’s most
dangerous countries for media personnel.
for crimes of violence against journalists has always been the norm in
Somalia until the two soldiers were arrested on 24 March and placed in
preventive detention on charges of “torture” and “threats” brought by
the armed forces attorney-general in connection with their treatment of
two reporters on 18 February.
The two journalists, Abdullahi Dahir Abdi and Said Warsame Sabriye,
who work for the video news production company Dhanbaal, were on foot
in Mogadishu on 18 February, interviewing passers-by about the lockdown
in some of its streets, when they were arrested and handcuffed by the
two soldiers and then made to lie face down on the sidewalk with their feet tied to the hands.
Although the journalists had committed no crime, they were forced to
remain in this humiliating and painful position for an hour and a half
before the soldiers handed them over to the police, who finally released
“These unprecedented arrests of the two soldiers, which were
decided at the highest state level, set an important precedent for the
fight against impunity in Somalia,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk.“It
is essential that the authorities continue to move in this direction so
that the prosecution and punishment of those responsible for abuses
against journalists become systematic. We urge the authorities to
demonstrate the same determination by arresting the police officer who
gunned down a journalist in cold blood last July.”
Somalia continues to be one of Africa’s deadliest countries for media
personnel, with three journalists killed in connection with their work
last year. Two were killed by the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab.
The third, Abdirisaq Qasim Iman, a reporter for the privately-owned TV channel SBS,
was shot dead by a policeman during an argument at a checkpoint in
Mogadishu on 25 July. Although the policeman’s identity is known, he has
yet to be arrested.
Somali is ranked 168th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.