Commenting on the arrest of two journalists in Mogadishu, UK Ambassador to Somalia Harriet Mathews, said; “The UK is concerned by the closure of Universal TV and the ongoing detention of staff members Awil Dahir Salad and Abdullahi Hersi. Freedom of the press is a fundamental right that must be respected to ensure accountable and transparent government. Reports that the two journalists remain in detention without a court appearance are concerning and we call on the Somali Government to ensure that due process is followed and to fully comply with its human rights obligations.
The critical importance of a free press was reaffirmed by a resolution on Somalia at the recent UN Human Rights Council. Co-sponsored by 60 nations, it urges the authorities in Somalia to prohibit, prevent and protect against all harassment of journalists and to respect freedom of expression. Somalia is at a critical juncture as decisions are made on the process for inclusive elections in 2016. A vibrant, independent Somali media will play a crucial role in communicating the political debate to the people of Somalia and building confidence in the emerging electoral process. Security institutions should work to protect the rights of Somali citizens, including human rights defenders such as journalists.”