Somalia: CPJ Slams Somalia Media Shutdown

Regulation & Policy

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a press freedom watchdog on Thursday condemned the Somali government's closure of three independent broadcasters accused of supporting terrorism, saying the authorities' allegations were unproven. The Somali government on Wednesday shut down three Mogadishu broadcasters, accusing them of supporting terrorism amid a virulent insurgency.

"We condemn the closure of these three radio stations," said Joel Simon, CPJ Executive Director in a statement sent to The Daily Monitor on Thursday. "The authorities have silenced important, independent voices on the basis of unsubstantiated accusations." The Committee called on the Somali transitional government to allow the broadcasters back on the air immediately.

The broadcasters were temporarily closed when similar accusations were made in January, just weeks after the Somali government and its Ethiopian military allies seized the capital Mogadishu from a rival Islamist movement. In January, the government closed the three broadcasters and the local office of Al Jazeera TV, just a few weeks after it took the city with Ethiopian military help from militant Islamists who wanted to rule Somalia by Islamic law.

The latest shutdown came amid a virulent rebellion blamed on remnants of the Islamist group who have vowed to wage an "Iraq-style" insurgency against the government and Ethiopian troops trying to help the transitional government install peace and security to the cheaotic African nation.

It was not immediately clear whether the closures were the result of particular broadcasts reports coming out from Somalia indicated. The reports said the move was rebuked by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, in her comments about the incidence after a meeting of the International Contact Group on Somalia in London. Frazer also criticised the arrest as being against the spirit of reconciliation, the report said.

(Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa), 8 June 2007)