The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has criticized the Somali government for its closure of three independent radio stations. Shabelle, HornAfrik and Radio of the Holy Quran were shut down Wednesday because the government said they were supporting terrorism.
Robert Mahoney is deputy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. He told VOA that the Somali government’s claims against the media institutions are unproven and a form of censorship.
“We are deeply disturbed by the closure of the three radio stations on unsubstantiated accusations, particularly the accusation that they, by their reporting, had created insecurity and supported terrorism. We believe that these radio stations have the right to report what is going on in Mogadishu and in Somalia generally,” he said.
Mahoney also rejects the Somali government’s claim that the stations were closed down because they did not support the peace process.
“The government should substantiate the accusations that it has made. If it has any credible evidence that any one of these media outlets has been doing something illegal, then it should bring forward and publish that evidence. That’s only fair to the radio stations. But to close them down without bringing forward any evidence or any proof to back up the accusations, looks more like censorship and an attempt to silence what appears to be independent voices,” Mahoney said.
In January this year, the Somali government closed down the same radio stations for a day. Mahoney said CPJ will continue to publicize the Somali government’s actions by writing letters to the government and talking to the international media.
“By doing interviews such as this one and publicizing what has happened; by making governments, whether in the United States or in Africa aware of how the authorities in Mogadishu are behaving toward radio stations and media, we hope that that would bring pressure on the government and bring them to rethink their decision,” he said.
Mahoney said the CPJ hopes Somalia would want to be perceived as a country where there is a free and independent press that is able to report on what is happening in the country.