Below is a press release from NUSOJ condemning the ordered eviction of Radio Jowhar on behalf of the Middle Shabelle government.
Similar action was taken against Radio Shabelle in Mogadishu in October 2013 because the station was using government-owned property, though political tensions between the two entities added controversy to the incident.
In terms of a property dispute, Radio Jowhar may be in the same situation as its Shabelle counterpart since the land was previously owned by the Ministry of Livestock. It is possible that the property may still technically be in possession of a government entity, but other sources say the land was legally transferred to the radio station.
However, in addition to the impractical amount of time given for the radio station to move out, allegations that district police raided the building, removed its equipment, and ordered the employees out will elevate the issue above a mere property dispute and into another attack on the free press.
Somalia is generally regarded as one of the toughest places to be a journalist due to threats posed by al-Shabaab, political forces, and another mysterious group known as “Unknown Gunmen.”
PRESS RELEASE (25 July 2014) The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is deeply concerned about the decision of the Middle Shabelle Governor to evict Radio Jowhar from its premises within 24 hours, a decision deemed as unfair, leaving the only radio station in the region to close and calls for the decision to be reversed and urged the Somali Ministry of Information of the Federal government of Somalia to make an urgent intervention into the matter.
The administration in the Middle Shabelle region based in the town of Jowhar, issued a degree signed by the Governor of Middle Shabelle region, Eng. Abdi Jiinow Alasow, on Wednesday 23 July, 2014, that ordered Radio Jowhar to evacuate the premises, formerly owned by the Ministry of Livestock, within 24 hours, following the request from the Ministry ofLivestock of the Federal government of Somalia.
The Decree orders “Radio Jowhar is ordered to evacuate within 24 hours, starting from the date the letter signed.”
“We are really shocked by the decision of the governor to vacate the premises within 24 hours.” Mohamed Abukar Caseyr said, “This leaves us no choice but only to shutdown the radio station.”
The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is deeply concerned by the decision that provided Radio Jowhar an ultimatum of 24 hours, in the town of Jowhar, the regional capital of Lower Shabelle region and calls for the governor of Middle Shabelle region and the ministry of livestock to reserve their decision which could leave the communities in the region without information.
“We are concerned by the hasty decision ordering the radio station to vacate the premises within 24 hours” Mohamed Ibrahim, NUSOJ Secretary General, “We call for the Middle Shabelle administration and the Federal Government of Somalia to reverse their decision and provide enough time the radio station to look for another location or provide alternative location.”
“The radio station is the only source of information for the communities in the region as informed communities are the integral part of building democratic societies,” Mr.Ibrahim added.
Radio Jowhar is community radio founded in 2003 by volunteer journalists from the region and continued to serve the communities in the region by providing timely and accurate information, social platforms, peace and reconciliation talk shows among others. In 2007, the radio station lost two prominent journalist in the line of duty.
According to the Radio Jowhar Director, 12 male and 8 female volunteer journalists who dedicated their time only to let community better informed, are currently working at the radio station.
NUSOJ also calls for the Somalia Ministry of Information and the international partners willing to support the Somali media to provide urgent support to Radio Jowhar to establish its own premises to maintain its volunteer work for making the communities aware of what’s happening in and around their region.
The eviction notice from the Middle Shabelle governor: