News from Africa

NUSOJ Calls Somaliland Authorities to Repeal the Court verdict against the Hubaal Newspaper, Its Editor and Manager

Human Rights

Témoignages.re / 4 July 2013

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) calls for the Somaliland authorities to quash the verdict against the Manager and the editor of Hubaal Newspaper in Hargeysa and lift the suspension of the newspaper, the latest in a series of attacks against the press in Somaliland.

The Hargeysa regional court handed down the manager of Hubaal, Mohamed Ahmed Jama to one year in prison and two million Somali Shilings in fine, while its editor, Hassan Hussein Abdullahi to two year prison term and two million Somaliland shillings in fines on Wednesday July 3, 2013. The regional court chief, Osman Diiriye Fanah, announced the verdict.

According to the journalists at the court, such verdict was not expected and was different raising the fears that the whole media freedoms were undermined.

“It was it civil case in the first place, but was turned into a penal case and the defendants were not given chance to speak.” Mohamed Bosh, a journalist at the court said, “Only, the judge came and read the verdict and this clearly sends a chilling message to the Somaliland media.”

Somaliland authorities accuse the hubaal media group and its senior manager and editor for publishing biased reports on drug smuggling against the Ethiopian government’s office in Hargeysa on 21 January,

2013 and publishing defamatory reports against the Somaliland president on 10th June, 2013, leading to the indefinite suspension of the newspaper.

Mohamoud Abdirahman, the defending lawyer told the journalists that the verdict was an injustice and will appeal against the judgment.

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is outraged by this disturbing imprisonments and called Somaliland authorities to repeal the verdict and respect the freedom of the expression and the freedom of the press as enshrined by the Somaliland constitution.

“We call on the Somaliland authorities to quash the dreadful verdict against our colleague and their newspaper and should show full respect to the media freedoms,” Mohamed Ibrahim, Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists said, “Journalists in Somaliland are tired of arbitrary arrests and beatings and the closure of Hubaal newspaper unjustified but rather signals that the authorities can shut down any media not favoring them.”

In April, two armed attackers, believed to be members of the Somaliland police, raided the Hubaal offices in Hargeysaand shot at its manager Mohamed Ahmed, injuring his arm and hand in apparent attack and so far, no charges have been brought against the attackers.

“Somaliland should book the attackers of Hubaal newspaper or otherwise the media community taste the delicacy of injustice in Somaliland.” Mr. Ibrahim added.

Somaliland authorities is famous for its arbitrary arrests, censorship, beat journalists in jail in respective to the Somaliland constitution and the Somaliland media law approved in 2004.

MOGADISHU, Somalia, July 4, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)

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