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: Esther Tawiah

In Ghana, Esther Tawiah is one of the loudest voices for women empowerment and gender. It is also why she is one of the most loathed. Born and raised in New-Tafo in the country’s eastern region, Esther grew up surrounded by a culture that frowned at the idea of women participating in public affairs, and witnessed firsthand, the backlash those who dared to challenge that cultural norm faced.

“I grew up in a society where ageism and sexism were so entrenched. As a young person, you weren’t supposed to give your opinion on public issues, especially if you were a woman. Women who dared to speak up were caricatured and branded as frustrated, unmarriageable prostitutes, all designed to shut them up,” she says.