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Step Back for Press Freedom in Somalia

Director for the Somali television station Horn Cable looks at the smashed window of a car that was carrying journalists. (File)

Press freedom is under attack in Puntland, Somalia.

Step Back for Press Freedom in Somalia
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On June 23rd, the Puntland government closed down independent Daljir Radio’s FM station in the state capital of Garowe, reportedly for interviewing former governor of Bari province Abdisamad Gallan.

The action drew a sharp response from the United States.

The United States Mission to Somalia issued a statement calling the closure of Radio Daljir a “direct contradiction of the right of free expression,” and urging the Puntland government “to honor its commitment to our shared support for press freedom and reopen Radio Daljir without delay.”

According to the State Department’s Human Rights Report, during 2015 federal and regional authorities subjected journalists to violence, harassment, arrest, and detention. The report also noted that “Al-Shabaab killed five journalists, and harassed and threatened others.”

Freedom of expression is a universal human right, as outlined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and protected under Article 18 of the Somalia Provisional Constitution. This freedom is critical to a free society and to an open and transparent electoral process.

The United States salutes Somalia’s journalists who, day in and day out, struggle under extreme threat to their safety and well-being, to defend this inalienable right on behalf of the Somali people.