21st July 2015 – Private internet provider has blocked prominent news website in Somaliland since yesterday, 20th July 2015. Hubaal media has been inaccessible to the users of Somtel internet. Somtel is a private company owned by Dahabshiil, a giant financial company famous of Somali money remittance. Aftahannews website also faces sporadic shutdowns, Aftahannews journalist told Human Rights Centre (HRC).
Hubaal website was blocked after it reported recent Wikileaks revelations which exposed alleged email communications between hacking company and Somtel which sought to buy hacking technology from the HackingTeam, emails disclosed by Wikileaks claim. Human Rights Centre cannot confirm the allegations in the Wikileaks disclosure.
Somtel authorities accuse Hubaal of damaging its reputation by publishing “false and defamatory information”, Somtel officers told Human Rights Centre.
“Internet provider blocking news website to silence it worsens the situation of Somaliland journalists who work in unfriendly environment”, says Hana Abdisalaan, advocacy and lobbying officer of Human Rights Centre. “The actions of Somtel are unacceptable and are threat to the freedom of expression. Few press outlets dared to report about the allegations in Wikileaks, and they are now unreachable. We condemn Somtel’s attempt to control independent media coverage. Somtel has no right to take the law in its hand,” she 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.
“Somtel shall restore access to the blocked website and halt press censorship. The government shall assign independent committee to investigate the Wikileaks revelations and the blockage of Hubaal website,” says Hana Abdisalaan.
Hana Abdisalaan Mohamed
Advocacy and Lobbying Officer
Human Rights Centre