Somalia: Somaliland Bans Universal TV

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The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has expressed concern over Somaliland authorities’ decision to temporarily suspend, on the evening of 5 October 2010, the operations of the London-based private Universal TV network in Somaliland.

A letter issued by Somaliland Minister of Information and Public Orientation, Abdullahi Osman Jama, accused Universal TV of having “failed to execute its media duties impartially”. The Minister, who asked the Somaliland law enforcement organs and the Interior Ministry to implement the suspension, added that Universal TV bypassed “international standards of journalism” and that its administration had refused to answer telephone calls from the Ministry, an allegation denied by Ahmed Abubakar, Director General of Universal TV who said that they did not receive any complaint or communication from the authorities.

“Any type of suspension or interruption of the routine work of the media is a breach of the freedom of communication and expression which are implemented through electronic media as well as print media. As a result, this suspension is against the basic principles and criteria of free media,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary-General.

NUSOJ has called on Somaliland authorities to lift the suspension and allow for the resumption of operations by giving dialogue a chance in order to promote free and ethical media. “We reiterate our call to Somaliland administration to open the airwaves for radio broadcasting. This is a major test to the new administration’s commitment to free media,” Omar Faruk added.

Universal TV is a leading and popular Somali television network based in London but broadcasting in Somaliland and the larger Somalia with a network of correspondents in many parts of the world.