The government of Somaliland on Tuesday suspended the operations of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), accusing the broadcaster of “undermining the credibility of the Somaliland state.”
Information minister Saleban Yusuf Ali Kore told a press conference in the country’s capital Hargeisa that “the BBC failed to recognize Somaliland as a democratic country that has stood on its feet for 31 years, with multiple presidential and parliamentary elections.”
The minister said that after long discussions, authorities decided to ban the BBC on the grounds that the network has lost its neutrality and is acting against the independence of Somaliland.
“The ears of the Somaliland people do not deserve the statements which the BBC uses to describe Somaliland.”
He said the ban would go into effect as of Tuesday, July 19. It was unclear, from the minister’s statements, whether the ban would be limited to BBC’s Somali service programming or affect the entire outlet’s broadcasting and reporting operations in Somaliland.
“Starting from today, I have commanded all functions related to BBC in Somaliland to be suspended,” he said.
In response to Somaliland’s decision, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“Taking the BBC off the air will only rob the public of access to a source of critical reporting on matters of local and international importance and entrench the view that Somaliland is an increasingly hostile place for journalism,” said Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative.
“Authorities should reverse this decision, ensure that the BBC can operate freely, and refrain from future interference in the work of the press.”
The BBC has not been formally notified of the suspension, a BBC spokesperson told CPJ by email, adding that the broadcaster was committed to serving its Somaliland audiences, and was seeking further clarification about the suspension from the government.
As of Wednesday, BBC broadcasts are no longer accessible in the country via FM radio but can be accessed on shortwave radio and through its website.
The BBC broadcasts radio bulletins in the Somali language and has a network of journalists operating in both Somaliland and Somalia.
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