MOGADISHU, Somalia, February 8, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The National Union of Somali Journalists is deeply disappointed the verdict against the journalists who interviewed a woman who said that she was gang raped by the Somali security forces, heightening fears among the Somali journalists about the future press freedom in the country and called for the government quash the conviction as the trial was unsatisfactory and release the journalist detained at the CID detention for the third day without charges.
The journalist, Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, was sentenced to one year for entering someone’s house and interviewing a wife in her home without permission, fabricating a false claim – even though he never published the allegation anywhere -and falsely accusing a government body of committing a crime that damages state security. The woman was also sentenced to one year in prison for fabricating a rape case that damages state security. The court deferred her sentence for one year because she is breastfeeding. Abdiaziz Abdinur is detained in Mogadishu Central Prison. The court ordered the release of the woman’s husband and two others for lack of evidence.
“We are very disappointed about the verdict of the journalist and sends a chilling message about the country’s press freedom and the freedom of expression and call for his urgent release.” Mohamed Ibrahim, Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists said, “It is unacceptable to criminalize reporting on important stories in order for the journalists to avoid future reporting of similar stories,”
“I praise the courage of the Somali journalists in serving the Somali people while facing killings, assassinations, death threats, arbitrary arrests and encourage to expose corruption, serious human rights violations to let the public know the untold stories and that their killers should be punished for their crimes.” Mr. Ibrahim added.
Somalia is one of the most dangerous places to be a journalist. 18 journalists and media workers have been killed in Somalia in 2012, becoming the deadliest year ever for the Somali journalists. Somali president, Hassan Sheik Mohamoud pledged ending the impunity against the journalists and the formation of an independent task force that investigates the crimes against the journalists, following his meeting with Somali journalists led by the union representatives.
Although, the National Union of Somali Journalists welcomes the formation of the recently launched Human rights Task Force but raised its concerns about the sincerity of the task force to have the results as required and call for the government to reform the Task force and allow the journalists’ community participation in the process.
“We welcome the formation of the task force, but we are genuinely concerned about the sincerity of the task force to have the results as
required.” Mohamed Ibrahim, NUSOJ Secretary General said,
“Journalists were not allowed to be part of the process and hence, its launch coincides the same day the court sentenced Abdiasis for one year in prison, which raised concerns among the Somali media community.”
“We call for the government to reform the task force which is fully independent and transparent.” Mr. Ibrahim added.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Somali Journalists voiced its concern for the arrest of the Somali journalist Daud Abdi Daud, who works for Kulmiye Radio and is the Secretary General of the African Environmental Journalists (AFEJ) who is in the CID detention for the third day without charges. Somali police arrested him in front of the regional court on February 5, 2013.
Somali journalists demand from the government to put its commitments into action and respect the freedom of the expression and the freedom of the press which is under serious threat.