Somaliland: Two prominent HRDs detained and questioned

Somaliland authorities should immediately end judicial harassment of a prominent human rights organisation’s staff, said DefendDefenders today.

Somaliland Police interrogated leading human rights defender (HRD) Guleid Ahmed Jama, lawyer and chairperson of the Human Rights Center, on 4 February and charged him with defamation and publication of false news leading to public disorder. He was held for several hours at the Hargeisa Regional Court and questioned about a petition calling for police reforms filed by the Human Rights Center, which Guleid spoke about in an interview with Sahan newspaper on 4 February.

According to the Human Rights Center’s website, the newspaper’s chief editor was also called in for questioning. Both were released later that day.

After issuing a press statement on the arrest of Guleid, spokesman of the Human Rights Center Ahmed Hussein Abdi was taken into police custody at the Criminal Investigation Department on 5 February. He has not been charged and is still in police custody.

“Somaliland authorities regularly subject vocal HRDs and journalists who voice criticism of issues of public concern to intimidation techniques such as judicial harassment,” said Hassan Shire, Executive Director of DefendDefenders. “We urge the authorities to cease harassing HRDs and to immediately and unconditionally release

Prominent human rights lawyer and chairperson of Somaliland’s Human Rights Center Guleid Ahmed Jama was interrogated by police and charged with defamation and publication of false news leading to public disorder, after his organisation filed a petition calling for police reform.

The next day, authorities also questioned the editor-in-chief of the Sahan newspaper, which had published an interview with Guleid about the petition, and arrested Ahmed Hussein Abdi, spokesperson of the Human Rights Center. He has not been charged and is still in police custody.

DefendDefenders calls upon the Somaliland authorities to stop the judicial harassment of human rights defenders engaged in legitimate work, and to immediately and unconditionally release Ahmed Hussein Abdi.


Human Rights Defender of the Month: Ocen Ivan Kenneth

Ocen Ivan Kenneth is a Program Director at Foundation for Development and Relief Africa (FIDRA), with more than 10 years’ experience working in the human rights field. Ivan’s ambitions for change focus on building inner peace, defending human rights and empowering local communities using theatre and storytelling. He creates a space where people from the community share their personal stories of trauma and resilience as well as identify mechanisms of healing.


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