European Union warns freedom of expression pandemic in Somalia

April 21, 2020 (Awdinle Online) – Somalia government Tuesday came under heavy criticism from the European Union over arbitrary arrest of journalists and silencing of dissenting voices with the bloc’s ambassador warning the Horn of Africa nation was risking a freedom of information ‘pandemic’.

The European Union ambassador to Somalia Nicolas Berlanga rebuked the Somali PM Hassan Khaire in a video conference call noting democracy cannot thrive through arrests and detention.

“EU message: “criticism is part of the democratic process. Limitation of Freedom of Expression cannot become another pandemic,” ambassador Berlanga said in a tweet. “If journalists neglect information, prison or detention is not an option.”

Ambassador Berlanga’s reprove of Somali government comes amid concerns of arrests and detention of journalists in the country. Goobjoog Media Group journalist Abdiaziz Gurbiye was last week arrested in Mogadishu and later released on bail as pressure on Somali authorities to let go the journalist mounted.

Prior to the arrest of Gurbiye, the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) early this month said it would take ‘legal action’ against VOA journalist Harun Maaruf over what it termed as ‘threat to national security.’ The agency did not substantiate its claims.

Somali government has been criticized before for arrest of journalists over reporting perceived to be critical of the government.