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12 February 2007

The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Ghanim Alnajjar, issued the following statement today:

“I am deeply concerned over recent threats to the right to freedom of opinion and expression in different parts of Somalia. Three journalists - Yusuf Abdi Gabode, Ali Abdi Din and Mohamed Omar Sheikh Ibrahim - employed by the Haatuf Media Network have been arrested and detained as a result of their work in “Somaliland.” I understand that several other persons have been arrested or detained for supporting the three journalists or demonstrating against their arrests. In mid-January, three radio stations and the office of a television station in Mogadishu were also temporarily closed by the Transitional Federal Government.

“Threats to journalists and media outlets constitute serious violations of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A free an independent press which does not fear any party is crucial to restoring peace and security in Somalia.

“This is worrying and I condemn these actions and reiterate that the media must be allowed to perform its duties without apprehension.

“I call upon the ‘Somaliland’ authorities to release the three journalists without conditions.

“I also remind all Somali authorities of their obligation to respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and to ensure the safety and security of all, including journalists and other media professionals”.