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Newsletter: Freedom of Expression in Eastern Africa:July 2014


17 July 2014

This monthly newsletter provides a snapshot of the current state of freedom of expression in Eastern Africa. It was compiled by ARTICLE 19 Kenya and Eastern Africa with the assistance of our partners in the respective countries. Funding support has been provided by the European Union (EU): the content of this newsletter, however, does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the EU.


Journalist detained

On 10 June, police detained 3 journalists in Kismayo, including Mascud Abdullahi—who has survived 3 bullets but continues reporting in Kismayo. Mascud Abdulahi Adan of Somali Channel, Abdirahman Sheikh Aadan of Radio Kismayo, and Khader Mohamoud Hared of Radio Bar-Kulan were summoned to the police station at 9 am and informed that they were under arrest. The journalists were later released at around 11:40 am without any reason being given for their arrest.

Journalist Attacked

On 13 June, three journalists including Adan Mohamed Salad of the Somali National Television (SNTV), Jaamac Ahmed Ali of Somsat TV, and Sabriye Hussein Barre of Universal Television were stopped by Mohamoud Kuri—the head of the security forces of the Interim Jubba Administration while driving near the police station in Kismayo. Adan Mohamed Salad was slapped and hit with hand bunches by Commander Mohamoud. The two other journalists, who tried to stop Kuri from beating the journalist, were threatened with a pistol and guns. They immediately fled the area.

Journalists Arrested

On 14 June, police in Hargeysa arrested the chairman of the twin newspapers Haatuf and Somaliland Times, Yuusuf Cabdi Gaboobe, citing court orders after paying a visit to the court to get information regarding the scheduled date for a hearing on his newspaper.

Radio Journalist Killed

On 21 June, a journalist was killed when an explosive device ripped through his car as he drove to work. Yusuf Ahmed Abukar (famously known as Yusuf Keynan) was an editor for the Mogadishu-based Mustaqbal Radio and a reporter for the humanitarian station Radio Ergo. Previously he worked for Shabelle Media Network and Radio Kulmiye. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack and police have promised to investigate.

Journalists condemn "dangerous" draft media law

On 21 June, National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) expressed dismay and dissatisfaction on the Minister of Information’s recent move to submit the controversial draft Media Law to the Council of Ministers without thorough consultation with the Somali media fraternity as agreed.The Somali Minister of Information, Mustaf Sheikh Ali Dhuhulow, submitted the secretively drafted document to the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers on Thursday to gain the Council’s endorsement so that the parliament can approve it.

Journalists jailed and newspaper license revoked

On June 25, Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, chairman of the Haatuf Media Network, and Ahmed Ali Igeh, his chief editor, were sentenced to 3 years each of jail and a fine of 50 Million Somaliland Shillings ($8,000 US Dollars). The two journalists were charged with “spreading false information” and “defamation” against Somaliland Ministers and the son-in-law of the Somaliland president. The court revoked the license of Haatuf Media Network, which publishes Haatuf newspaper (in Somali) and the Somaliland Times (in English). Both journalists were immediately taken to the central prison in Hargeisa.


Journalist Arrested.

On 18 June, a female journalist hosting a daily morning radio program on Speak FM was arrested at gunpoint in Gulu by three police officers as she headed to the radio station for work. Atim Brenda Kinyera was punched by one of the arresting police officers as she boarded the police patrol car. She was later released without any charges.


Journalist released after four years in prison

On 18 June, Agnès Uwimana Nkusi was released from prison. Nkusi had been behind bars since July 2010 and initially faced up to 17 years in prison on charges of inciting "civil disobedience", "prompting division", and "genocide denial". The accusations followed publication of articles critical of President Paul Kagame. On 5 April 2012, the Supreme Court of Rwanda reduced her sentence to four years, upholding two charges against her: "damaging state security" and "defamation” of President Kagame.


20 journalists fired for expressing “narrow political views”.

On 25 June, the Ethiopian national broadcaster Oromia Radio and Television Organization (ORTO), the main state-owned broadcaster in Oromia, fired 20 journalists for allegedly giving positive coverage of the protests against the controversial Master Plan of Addis that many activists believe is aimed at incorporating parts of Oromia into the federal city of Addis Ababa. The 20 journalists were denied entry to the ORTO headquarters and were effectively dismissed without any explanations. It is not yet clear whether the journalists may also be subjected to other administrative or judicial proceedings.