State authorities in Somaliland must immediately release detained lawyer and human rights defender Guleid Ahmed Jama, who is being detained on wholly baseless charges, said the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, in a statement released today.
Guleid Ahmed Jama is a respected lawyer and the Chairperson for Somaliland’s Human Rights Centre. He was arrested on the morning of 18th April 2015 at Hargeisa Regional court whilst representing a client, on the instructions of the court judge.
Guleid’s arrest reportedly follows an interview he gave to the BBC on 16th April 2015, during which he discussed recent executions by Somaliland authorities, and the need for judicial reforms in the de facto autonomous state.
Following his arrest, Guleid was detained at the Criminal Investigation Division for 24 hours. The following day, on 19th April 2015, he was moved to Hargeisa’s Central Police Station, where he was initially informed he was being held for ‘condemnation of the judiciary’. His bail hearing took place later the same day, which was presided by the same judge who ordered his arrest.
The bail application was reportedly granted, but police officers at the station refused to release Guleid. Purportedly, this decision was made on the basis that an appeal had been filed by the Attorney General’s Office against the court’s decision to grant bail. On 20th April, Guleid was transferred to Hargeisa Central Prison, where it is anticipated that he will be detained for several further days before having access to a court.
According to information provided to EHAHRDP by his lawyer, Guleid is facing charges under Somalia’s Penal Code of 1962. Specifically, he faces charges under Articles 215 (‘Subversive or anti National- Propaganda’), 321 (‘Instigation to Disobey the Laws’), 326 (‘Intimidation of the Public’) and 328 (‘publication or circulation of false, exaggerated and tendencious news capable of disturbing public order’).
“The charges reportedly brought against Guleid Ahmed Jama are not only baseless and absurd; they also have absolutely no basis under regional or international law”, said Hassan Shire, EHAHRDP’s Executive Director. “His detention makes a mockery of the notion of ‘rule of law’ in Somaliland, and this is a shameless and transparent attempt to target Guleid simply for exercising his right to freedom of expression”.
EHAHRDP calls on Somaliland authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Guleid Ahmed Jama, and drop all charges against him.
For more information, please contact:
Hassan Shire, Executive Director, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project on: [email protected] or +256 772 753 753
John Foley, Advocacy & Research Manager, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project on: [email protected] or +256 789 650996/ +44 7944 252 894