Somali police have allegedly harassed staff from the fourth estate on Monday during an assignment at Adan Adde International Airport in Mogadishu.
The journalists from Al-Jazeera and Reuters were said to have been beaten and their equipment confiscated by the security forces in Mogadishu.
In a statement, Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) has condemned the move terming the allegations as a move to suppress the media.
“We condemn the attack against our colleague journalists in the strongest terms possible,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, Secretary-General of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said. “Journalists are not enemies, but are messengers and their attack is not only a violation against press freedom and freedom of expression but also constitutes a human rights violation.”
“Journalists are increasingly facing threats and attacks with no accountability from the state security forces. We call on the federal government of Somalia to immediately launch an investigation into the matter and bring the officers responsible for this attack to justice” Mr. Mumin added.
Jama Nur Ahmed, Al-Jazeera Arabic correspondent; Abdinasir Abukar Hared, Al-Jazeera cameraman; Omar Siyad, driver; Mohamed Ali Dahir, Al-Jazeera crew assistant; and Feisal Omar, Reuters journalist were returning from an assignment at Aden Adde International Airport where planes carrying humanitarian aid for the flood-affected regions in the country landed.
According to the reports, two pick-up trucks with armed police officers stopped the journalists’ car and began harassing, beating and fired several bullets into the air.
“We were driving through Zobbe junction when the two pick-up trucks with heavily armed police officers encountered us. Initially they pointed their guns at us and ordered our vehicle to be veered off the traffic but we told them that there was no space due to the heavy traffic,” Feisal Omar, Reuters photojournalist told SJS “It seems they recognized us as journalists after they have seen our cameras so they increased the harassment and fired into air while pointing the guns towards us. ”
Al-Jazeera Arabic correspondent, Jama Nur said that one police officer pointed his pistol at him and threatened to shoot as a second officer attempted to forcibly open the driver’s door.
“The first officer wanted to take me out of the car but my door was locked, he then went the driver’s side and attempted to open the door but I held the driver’s hand firmly so they could not snatch him,” Al-Jazeera TV correspondent, Jama Nur said, “The officer was loudly telling other officers that we were journalists and we were recording a video of the police which we did not do. They confiscated two of our cameras.”
The Reuters photojournalist, Feisal Omar and Al-Jazeera cameraman, Abdinasir Abukar sustained slight bruises due to beatings. The two Al-Jazeera cameras were later returned to the journalists, according to Jama Nur Ahmed.
Contacts at the Ministry of Information of the Federal Government of Somalia and the police chief’s office did not respond to SJS’s phone calls and text messages seeking a response.