Somaliland: CPJ Goes Ballistic Again after Universal TV is Banned


Sayid Mire

By: Yusuf M Hasan

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The Committee to Protect Journalists-CPJ is engaged in designs meant to portray the republic of Somaliland negatively within international Circles.

According to the spokesperson of the ministry of information and managing editor of Dawan media Group Mohamed Osman Mire ‘Sayid’ accusations leveled against the government of Somaliland by CPJ following the withdrawal of Universal TV’s operating license are erroneous and based on information from dubious sources.

Mr. Sayid who attributed the Universal TV operating withdrawal to a breach of contract with the Somaliland authorities the license issuer also asked CPJ to desist from pouring venom towards Somaliland government as a result of unverified information.

Accordingly “It is not clear why the CPJ decided to publish condemnations in its website titled “Somaliland authorities ban international broadcaster” without the courtesy of conformation with the Government in Hargeisa as per arrangements”

This was in apparent to a gentleman’s agreement between the CPJ and the Somaliland ministry of Information in which the CPJ was to secure among other sources related information as per the government from Mr. Sayid in relation to any CPJ perceived media ills in the country before publishing anything.

Tom Rhodes CPJ East Africa Rep“Though the CPJ has consulted us on a number of occasions in which relevant information was provided in justification of ills the Washington DC body perceived to have been committed against local fourth estate, they (CPJ) decided to rely on their one sided and dubious information from their anonymous local journalist and reports as pertains to the Universal TV license withdrawal”

While announcing the TV’s license revocation much acclaimed by Somalilanders the minister of Information Abdilahi U’kuse who attributed the decision to a breach of agreement said the London based broadcaster had aired “cheap propaganda” and insulted the president in addition to the violation of journalism ethics through one of its regular Saturday political satire program called “Faaliyaha Qaranka”

Informing CPJ that “Faaliyaha Qaranka” has nothing to do with Satire but is a political program geared towards the reunification of the fragmented Somalia republic of which Somaliland is not part of, the information ministry spokesperson said that Universal which is better informed about the difference should have known better and CPJ should have verified facts before going ballistic.

“How can you satire the president of Country A in a program solely meant for Country B” wondered Sayid while castigating CPJ for continually insinuating that Somaliland is a semi-autonomous republic without mentioning where the semi-autonomous emanates from or granted by whom.

At the same time and while commending the CPJ for continued defence of journalists worldwide the information ministry Spokesperson Mohamed Osman Mire “Sayid’ wondered how or under whose authority the CPJ got the guts to tutor Somaliland authorities on application of Somaliland laws which were put in place by the same Somaliland authorities.

This wonder and need of answers was in reaction to the last second paragraph of the CPJ statement on Universal TV that read

“If Somaliland authorities believe a news outlet is airing defamatory content, they should use the appropriate legal channels to seek redress instead of silencing the broadcaster,” said CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes adding that “We condemn this act of censorship and call on authorities to allow Universal TV to resume broadcasting immediately.”

On CPJ accusations that Universal TV has been persistently targeted for airing opposition politicians and political parties news the spokesperson termed the accusations as unfounded and baseless in view of the provable fact that all media houses both electronic and print have opposition political news as their main items almost on a daily basis.

“If airing or publishing opposition political views was a crime then there would have been no fourth estate in Somaliland”

While urging CPJ uphold its internationally acclaimed status thence cease from acting partial through unsubstantiated reports Sayid Mire asked CPJ and more Specifically its Nairobi based East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes to honour the gentleman’s arrangement with local authorities and seek confirmation as well as justification of perceived ills against the media before going ballistic with Somaliland authorities.

Although CPJ had in the recent past consulted with local authorities after intervention of Somalilandsun thence the gentleman’s’ agreement in which Sayid Mire was the focal point this is not the first time for the international body and its Nairobi based representative to go ballistic on Somaliland courtesy of information from dubious sources it, CPJ, calls local journalists or reports.

It is also difficult to fathom why they CPJ and Tom Rhodes do not even consult the Somaliland Journalists Association-SOLJA despite good rapport between the two.

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