SOMALIA: Protests after Somali TV owner arrested over khat story

International organisations are calling for the release of Mohammed Osman Mireh, a TV station owner whose premises were raided by police in Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa.

The Friday raid at Horyaal 24 TV is linked to an investigative story that was to be aired by the station on the challenges faced by women who chew khat, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The station had posted a trailer on YouTube advertising the story.

Chewing khat, a stimulant plant used for recreation, is legal in Somaliland but is taboo for women in the predominantly patriarchal territory, whose independence from Somalia is not internationally recognised.

“Women who chew khat do it secretly, hiding from others, hiding from their family members, hiding from their spouses,” Guled Ahmed Jama, a lawyer with Human Rights Centre, told BBC’s Focus on Africa.

“It was sort of [an] investigative programme where they [journalists] were able to sit with and talk to women who chew khat. Women were talking about the difficulties and challenges they are facing.”

On Sunday, a Hargeisa court granted police seven days to hold the TV station owner but no charges have so far been made public, according to CPJ.

The Human Rights Centre has taken up the case.

“[It shows] how it’s difficult for journalists in Somaliland to operate because basically doing this programme is not a criminal matter,” said Mr Jama.

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