Somalia: NUSOJ Condemns Regional Police Commissioner’s Egregious Assault on Media Freedom and Grave Jeopardy to Journalists’ Safety

FILE: Banadir Regional Police Commissioner, Colonel Mahdi Omar Mumin

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) vehemently condemns the recent statement made by the Banadir Regional Police Commissioner, Colonel Mahdi Omar Mumin. This statement not only constitutes a flagrant attack on media freedom and the fundamental right to freedom of expression but also poses a serious threat to the safety and well-being of journalists in the capital city. 

The Commissioner’s attempt to attack the credibility of the media by baselessly accusing them of “distorting information” is an affront to their vital role as the guardians of truth in society. Such crude mischaracterizations not only jeopardize the safety of journalists but also undermine their ability to hold those in positions of power accountable. This attack on the media is an attack on the principles of democracy and transparency.

Additionally, the Commissioner’s reference to a “digital roadblock” raises significant concerns about potential restrictions on social media and digital platforms. This alarming statement hints at a troubling inclination towards curtailing citizens’ right to freely express their opinions and access crucial information. Censoring the digital space poses a grave threat to media freedom and hampers the media’s ability to fulfil its indispensable duty of uncovering the conduct of law enforcement agencies.

Furthermore, the Commissioner’s suggestion that people should refrain from blaming the police and instead seek recourse solely through the court system is deeply disturbing. This discouragement of freedom of expression not only hampers public scrutiny of potential police misconduct but also erodes the trust between the police and the communities they serve. It is imperative that journalists be allowed to carry out their crucial role as watchdogs, bringing accountability to the actions of law enforcement agencies for the betterment of society.

Equally upsetting is the Commissioner’s endeavour to criminalize defamation and subject individuals to criminal penalties for simply expressing their thoughts or critiques of national leaders. This blatant disregard for the fundamental right to criticize those in power creates an atmosphere of intimidation and suppresses voices of dissent. Such actions directly contradict the principles of democracy and violate Article 18 of the Constitution of Somalia, which explicitly guarantees media freedom and freedom of expression, including the right to engage in free speech.

“The behaviour of the Police Commissioner is synonymous with the actions of a police state, and it is deeply depressing. Journalists must be free to carry out their duties without fear of retribution or harm from the police,” stated Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. “The police statement 

NUSOJ urgently calls upon President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre to promptly and decisively address these alarming assaults on media freedom and take necessary action to protect journalists and the fundamental right to freedom of expression from any possible repression. It is crucial for the highest leadership of the nation to unequivocally denounce the Commissioner’s dangerous statement and instruct the police to swiftly implement robust measures that uphold the rights of journalists and citizens alike.

It is imperative to note that should any harm befall journalists in Mogadishu at the hands of the police, it will be directly linked to the dangerous rhetoric uttered by the Banadir Regional Police Commissioner, which puts journalists in jeopardy.

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