January 5, 2017

Somaliland: Internet Providers Support Government in Suppressing Critical Voices

         Photo Courtesy to Javier Morales@Flickr

Two privately owned internet providers, Somcable and Somtel, blocked the prominent news website Hadhwanaagnews after the website had published an article claiming that the owner of Somcable provides financial support to the ruling Peace, Unity and Development Party, Kulmiye. Somcable first asked the website to remove the article and later blocked it completely. This incident is a threat to freedom of expression and worsens the situation of Somaliland journalists who already struggle with unfavourable conditions. On paper, the Somaliland Constitution outlaws the interference of private communication providers and upholds the freedom of press.

Below an article published by Somalilandpress:

Two main private internet providers have blocked prominent news website in Somaliland since yesterday, 2nd January 2017. Hadhwanaagnews website media has been inaccessible to the users of Somcable and Somtel internets.

Hadhwanaagnews was blocked after it published news article claiming that the owner of Somcable, Mohamed Saed Guedi, provides financial support to the ruling party, Kulmiye. Somcable asked the website to remove the article.

“Internet provider blocking news website to silence it worsens the situation of Somaliland journalists who are already working in unfavorable environment. It is very concerning when internet providers side with the government in suppressing the critical voices,” says Guleid Ahmed Jama, the chairperson of Human Rights Centre.

“The actions of Somcable and Somtel are unacceptable and are threat to the freedom of expression. We condemn these attempts aimed to control the independent media coverage. The internet providers have no right to take the law in their hand,” he adds.

Somaliland constitution upholds freedom of press and prohibits any act that subjugates the media, as stipulated in article 32 of Somaliland constitution. The constitution also outlaws interference of private communications.

“Somcable and Somtel shall restore access to the blocked website and halt press censorship,” says Guleid.