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Somali authorities abuse journalists

BOSSASSO, Somalia, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Police in Somalia's autonomous northeastern region of Puntland have been charged with "outrageous behavior and ferocity" towards the media.

Reporters Without Borders and its partner, the National Union of Somali Journalists, leveled the accusations and expressed particular concern about prison conditions in Bossasso.

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A journalist with the privately owned Somalia TV Network, editor-in-chief Awale Jama Salad, was held in Bossasso for a second time and in September endured severe physical mistreatment after he criticized conditions in the Bossasso jail. Reporters Without Borders and the National Union of Somali Journalists said, "Despite our repeated appeals, the current president of Somalia's transitional federal government, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, has failed to establish the rule of law in Puntland although he has a great deal of influence in the region.

"Nonetheless, urgent action is needed as the two main cities, Garowe and Bossasso, have become high-risk areas for journalists and the authorities have no qualms about gagging news media they dislike. If President Ahmed's promises of democracy are not to lose all credibility in the eyes of the international community, he must stop ignoring the accelerating loss of press freedom in his own fiefdom."

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