Defenddefenders: Somaliland must abandon criminal charges against journalists

(See Somali version below)

Kampala – The issuing of criminal charges against journalists Abdirashid Nur and Said Khadar is a shocking attempt by Somaliland’s authorities to curtail freedom of expression, said the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (Defenddefenders) today in its statement.

The two journalists are accused of publishing and circulating false information among other charges under Somalia’s Penal Code of 1962, and are due to have their first hearing in court this Saturday on 23 January.

“This prosecution is politically motivated with the Somaliland authorities sending a clear message they will crack down on media for discussing sensitive issues” said Hassan Shire, the Executive Director of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project. “Somaliland must stop its repression of journalists and allow media workers to do their work without harassment or intimidation.”

In late October, Hubsad published an article stating the government of Somaliland was selling land it owned unlawfully and this is widely believed to be the real reason behind their arrest.

On 30 November 2015 Abdirashid, chairman of Hubsad newspaper and Said, the editor-in-chief of Hubsad newspaper, were arrested at Hargeisa’s Criminal Investigation Department.  Prior to their arrest, the two journalists had visited the Office of the Attorney General to register the names of new leadership and ownership of their newspaper but were sent to the police station and on the Attorney General’s orders, arrested. In late October, Hubsad had been shut down by the authorities – after only three days in operation – on the basis that the journalists were running an unlicensed paper.

However, according to Abdirashid and Said’s lawyers, Hubsad is a registered newspaper. Although the ownership and leadership had transferred from previous management to Abdirashid and Said, Somaliland’s press law does not require re-registration of a media house if the ownership and staff change.

The two journalists were released on 3 December but have been subsequently charged under Somalia’s Penal Code of 1962 for publication or circulation of false, exaggerated or tendencious news capable of disturbing public order (article 328), substitution of person (article 383) and unauthorised or prohibited business agencies and public trading concerns (article 518). Their first hearing will be taking place this Saturday on 23 January. If the court decided that they acted in violation of the law – once the case is concluded – both could face at least one year of imprisonment and revocation of the license of their newspaper.

 In 2004, Somaliland introduced a media law for regulation purposes. Article 3 recognises that freedom of the press is enshrined in the Constitution and states that no restraints can be imposed on the press. Any acts that can be construed as amounting to censorship are prohibited. The media law also provides that any infringements committed by journalists are treated as civil issues. This provision has not been applied in Abdirashid and Said’s case.

In the recent past Somaliland has closed media outlets perceived to be publishing stories that are “anti-government”. In April 2014, police officers entered the premises of Haatuf and ordered the newspaper’s immediate closure. The following month, a regional court remanded the Chairman of Haatuf, and Chief Editor of the network in custody after charging them with libel, false publication, and anti-state propaganda. Both were eventually released but the newspaper remains closed at the time of writing.

DefendDefenders calls on the Somaliland authorities to:

  • drop the criminal charges against Abdirashid Nur and Said Khadar;
  • re-open Haatuf publication and;
  • take the necessary measures to stop all acts of intimidation carried out against journalists and respect their right to freedom of opinion and expression.

 

For further information please contact:

Hassan Shire, Executive Director, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project on:executive@defenddefenders.org or +256 772 753 753 (English and Somali)

Kafia Omar, Special Programs Officer, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project on:specialprograms@defenddefenders.org or +256 312265824/ +256 775878392 (English and Somali)

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Somaliland waa in ay joojisa weerarka ay ku hayaan suxufiyiinta

Hay’adda Difaacayaasha Xuquuqda Aadanaha ee Geeska Afrika waxay maanta soo saareen war-qoraal oo maamulayaasha Somaliland waajib uga dhigayso inay joojiyaan weerarka ay ku hayaan suxuufiyiinta iyo warbaahinta. Hay’adda waxay cambaaraynaysaa dembiyada lagu haysto Cabdirashiid Nuur iyo Siciid Khadar.

Labada wariye ayaa lagu eedeeyay qodobo hoos yimaada Dastuurka Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland. Dacwada dhageeysigeeda hore wuxuu dhici doonaa maalinta Sabtida ah ee 23 January.  Agaasimaha ee Hay’adda Xuquuqda Aadanaha ee Geeska Afrika Hassan Shire ayaa sheegay in dembiyada lagu haysto wariyasha farriin cad tahay inay Maamulayaasha Somaliland weerar ku hayaan warbaahinta iyo in suxufiyiinta aysan ka hadli karin war ka so horjeeda Dowladda. “Somaliland waa in ay oggolaata in suxufiyinta ay shaqayaan hor istaag la’aan.” 

Dhamaadkii bisha October, Hubsad waxay daabacday maqaal sheegay in dawladda ay dhul fara badan ay leedahay, si sharci daran ku iibisey. Taasi ayaana aad loo rumeysan yahay sababta ka dambeysa xariga.

30kii November 2015 Cabdirashiid, oo madax ka ah wargeyska Hubsad, iyo Siciid, tafatiraha Hubsad, ayaa saldhigga booliiska Hargeisa lagu xiray. Xarigooda ka hor, labada wariye waxay booqdeen xafiiska Xeer-ilaaliyaha Guud si ay ulaa socodsiiyaan magacyadaa hoggaanka cusub ee wargeyska laakiin waxaa loo diray saldhigga booliska. Amarka Xeer-ilaaliyaha Guud ka bacdi ayaa labada wariye la xiray. Bishii October, dawladda waxay joojisay wargeyska Hubsad – sababta ay sheegtayna waa in warqad laysan aysan haysan.

Cabdirashiid iyo Siciid qareenkooda wuxuu sheegay in Hubsad ay leedahay laysan. Lahaanshaha iyo hoggaanka wargeyska waa lagu wareejiyay Cabdirashiid iyo Siciid. Dib-u-diiwaangelin ma loo baahno markii lahaanshaha iyo shaqaalaha isbedelaan.

Labada wariye waxaa la sii daayay 3 December laakiin waxaa hadda lagu eedeeyay qodobo ka tirsan Dastuurka Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland (daabacid ama faafin war been ah iyo diiwaan gelin la sameeynin). Dacwadan dhageeysigeeda hore wuxuu dhici doonaa maalinta Sabtida ah ee 23 January. Haddii maxkamaddu ay gaarto go’aan in wariyasha ay ku xadgudbeen sharciga, waxaa laga yaabaa in ugu yaraan labadoodu hal sano lagu xukumo ama wargeyska la xiro.

Sannadkii 2004, Somaliland waxay so bandhigtay sharci warbaahinta. Qodobka saddexaad waa aqoonsan yahay xorriyadda saxaafadda ku xusan dastuurka. Waxaa qoran saxaafadda caburin lagulama kici karo iyo waxa reeban wax kasta oo loo qaadan karo faaf-reeb. Waxaa kale oo qoran in saxaafadda ku xad gudubta faqradaha qodobkan waxa loo raacayaa anshaxmarinta ku xusan xeer-hoosaadka anshaxa saxaafadda iyo xeerarka madaniga ee dalka ee falkoodu khuseeyo.

Dhowr warbaahin ayaa jira oo dawladda Somaliland xirtay sababata oo ah inay dawladda ka soo horjeedaan. Bishii Abriil 2014, bolis ayaa galay Haatuf oo amar bixiyay in wargeyska la xiro si degdeg ah. Bisha May, maxkamadda gobolka waxay xukuntay in la xiro guddoomiyaha iyo tafitiraha ayagoo lagu haysto faafin war been ah iyo war dawladda ka so horjeeda. Labada wariye ugu danbeyn waa la sii daayay laakiin wargeyska weli waa xiran yahay.

Guddiga Difaacayaasha Xuquuqda Aadanaha ee Geeska Afrika waxay ugu baaqeysaa madaxda Somaliland in: – 

– dembiyo lagu qabsan Cabdirashiid Nuur iyo Siciid Khadar;

– dib loo furo wargeyska Haatuf iyo;

– ay qaadaan tallaabooyin lagama maarmaan ah oo ay joojiyaan weerarka ay ku hayaan warbaahinta lana xushmeeyo xorriyadda hadalka iyo xuquuqda aadanaha.  

Wixii macluumaad dheeraad ah fadlan la xiriir: 

Hassan Shire, Agaasimaha Fulinta, Hay’adda Difaacayaasha Xuquuqda Aadanaha ee Geeska Afrika, executive@defenddefenders.org ama +256 772 753 753 (Ingiriis iyo Somali)

Kafia Omar, Hay’adda Difaacayaasha Xuquuqda Aadanaha ee Geeska Afrika, specialprograms@defenddefenders.org ama +256 312265824/ +256 775878392 (Ingiriis iyo Somali)
 

 

 

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