The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemns in the strongest terms possible the arrest of a prominent journalist in Baidoa, Southwest State of Somalia, for a news report featuring rape case.
Journalist Mukhtar Mohamed Atosh, a reporter for Voice of America (VOA) Somali Service and Secretary of Trainings of NUSOJ, was today arrested in Baidoa by Southwest State police and taken to Crimes Investigation Department (CID), where he will be spending the night.
A dozen of Southwest Police officers, led by Divisional Commander for Bay region Mr. Amin Mohamed Osman, carried out the operation to arrest the journalist at Jeeri Tower in the centre of Baidoa at around 17hrs. Police officers indicated Atosh was arrested for reporting yesterday the death of 14 years old girl who was raped and taken to Baidoa hospital where she died due to injuries sustained in the rape attack.
"It is very appalling that instead of targeting the suspected rapists, Southwest administration chose to arrest and persecute journalist Mukhtar Mohamed Atosh for informing the public about the rape case and serious bodily harm that caused the victim's death. The journalist has a right to shed light on this crime and Mukhtar Mohamed Atosh must regain his freedom," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary-General.
Following the VOA news report about the rape case, Southwest Authorities ordered the administration of Bay regional hospital to not talk to journalists and deny that the rape victim died at the hospital. Consequently, local journalists who sought to conduct interviews today were denied any information.
"Clearly the arrest and detention of Mukhtar Atosh is in an attempt to silence his reporting on a serious sexual assault and the ramification of his arrest is to stop local journalists spreading the truth. This must stop now, people must know the truth, the rape victim deserves justice and journalists must continue doing their journalistic work freely and without intimidations" added Osman.