New York, US (PANA) - The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned last week's arrest and brutal assault of Mohamed Abdirahman, a journalist in the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland.
According to a statement from the New York-based group, police arrested Abdirahman, a reporter for the local news site Subulahanews, on the morning of 21 February in the North-western town of Borama, and accused him of publishing a false story that claimed Ethiopian separatists with the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) had settled in the northwestern town of Lughaya.
While in custody, Abdirahman was beaten by four police officers with sticks and the butt of a gun until he lost consciousness.
Police took the journalist to Borama Hospital, where he was treated in the intensive care unit for his internal injuries. He was later moved to Hargeisa Hospital so he could receive more advanced treatment.
"This vicious attack against Mohamed Abdirahman is the latest example of the severely deteriorating press freedom climate in Somaliland," said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. "Authorities must ensure a thorough and independent investigation into this crime, and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice."
Faisal Ali Sheekh Mohamed, the director general of the Information Ministry, told CPJ he was not aware of Abdirahman's case but would investigate the matter.
On 19 February, two reporters for the weekly Ogaal were arrested for publishing a similar report on the ONLF.
One of the journalists, Mohamed Abdi, told CPJ they were arrested on the orders of the interior minister and were taken to the Central Investigation Department in the capital, Hargeisa.
Both journalists were released on Sunday.
Somaliland authorities have repeatedly arrested and arbitrarily detained independent journalists for reporting on cases of disputed regions in the semi-autonomous republic.
In January alone, authorities arrested at least 28 independent journalists without charge, according to CPJ research.
-0- PANA SEG 29Feb2012