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Somalia

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Last updated on 04.04.2018 at 05:36

Somalia-Overview

*Please note that updates on the Somalia page also cover developments in Somaliland*

The long-running conflict involving armed group Al-Shabaab and the Somali government, in addition to smaller conflicts with warlords over access to resources, continues to have a damaging effect on citizen’s basic freedoms,...

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Crackdown on media workers continue

Crackdown on media workers continue

Media workers faced arrest, detention and even attacks for carrying out their work. Somaliland poet and peace activist Naema Qorane was charged with spreading unpatriotic propaganda

Human Rights Watch’s annual report issued in February 2018 noted that media workers in Somalia continue to face targeted attacks, including harassment and intimidation by federal and regional authorities as well as from the armed group Al-Shabab. In the Somaliland autonomous region, authorities continue to restrict public criticism. According to Amnesty International, more than 30 journalists were arrested and detained in 2017 in Somaliland for criticising the government.

Expression

Broadcast journalist arrested in Jubaland

On 8th February 2018, security forces in the semi-autonomous state of Jubaland arrested broadcast journalist Sabir Abdulkadir Warsame from the privately-owned Somali Cable TV, and held him for several days without charge in the state capital of Kismayo. According to an unnamed source, the journalist inadvertently filmed a vehicle carrying charcoal, the export of which is illegal in Somalia due to a 2012 UN Security Council resolution aimed at cutting off sources of financing for Al-Shabab.

In response to his arrest, Angela Quintal from the Committee to Protect Journalists declared that:

"Arresting and detaining Sabir Abdulkadir for simply doing his job as a journalist is outrageous…he should be immediately released without charge and free to continue reporting in the public interest".
Universal TV bureau chief arrested in Hargeisa

On 17th February 2018, Somaliland authorities arrested Mohamed Aabi Digaale, the Hargeisa bureau chief for the London-based Universal TV, and held him without charge for several days. On 19th February, authorities brought him to court where he was remanded to the Counter Terrorism Unit for seven more days pending further investigation. Court officials told the organisation HRC Somaliland that he was detained due to a report aired on Universal TV from Somaliland's Sanaag region. He was released on bail on 27th February and at the time of writing, no charges had been filed against him.

Reporters Without Borders condemned the arrest, stating that:

“Mohamed Aabi Digaale’s detention is completely arbitrary and illegal…we call for his immediate release and we expect the authorities to respect press freedom, which is enshrined in Somaliland’s constitution”.
Journalist assaulted by Puntland presidential guards

According to the Media Association of Puntland, Khalif Gelle from Radio Garowe was assaulted by Puntland presidential guards while en-route to cover a graduation ceremony in Garowe on 25th February. The guards allegedly punched him repeatedly and kicked him in the face after he was knocked to the floor. The incident left him with a bloody nose and a severe injury to his right eye. 

Poet and peace activist arrested for spreading "unpatriotic propaganda"

On 6th March 2018, Somaliland poet and peace activist Naema Qorane was charged with spreading "unpatriotic propaganda" via Facebook, where she allegedly promoted the idea of a united Somalia.

She was arrested on 27th January after returning from Mogadishu where she had presented at a TEDx event and met with President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.

She was charged with "anti-national activity of a citizen abroad" (Article 212 of the Penal Code) and for "bringing the nation or the state into contempt" (Article 219(2) of the Penal Code). If found guilty, Naema could face more than eight years in prison.

Somaliland is a self-declared state which declared its independence in 1991, although it is internationally still recognised as an autonomous region of Somalia. Somaliland authorities are sensitive about matters and opinions related to unification.

Association

There is limited space for CSOs to operate due to the armed conflict in many parts of the country, though associational rights are technically guaranteed in the provisional Constitution.

There is limited space for CSOs to operate due to the armed conflict in many parts of the country, though associational rights are technically guaranteed in Article 16 of the provisional Constitution of 2012. Operating without adequate oversight, the national intelligence agency routinely arrests and detains human rights activists, often with no formal charges pressed against them. Many Somali CSOs now operate from Kenya because of numerous incidents of attacks, abductions and killings of CSO employees.

Authorities also use the 1962 Penal code to harass human rights defenders, bringing charges against which include “instigation to disobey the laws and “publication or circulation of false, exaggerated and tendentious news capable of disturbing public order” among others.

Somalia also remains a dangerous place for international and domestic organisations working to address the country's serious humanitarian issues. Aid workers are constantly under threat, especially when carrying out fieldwork and in the southern parts of Somalia where the armed group Al-Shabaab dominates.

Peaceful Assembly

The authorities rarely respect the freedom to assemble peacefully.

The authorities rarely respect the freedom to assemble peacefully even though this right is enshrined in Article 20 of Somalia’s constitution. Protesters have been killed or injured by security forces using live ammunition to disperse them. Further the authorities regularly denies requests to gather, even if those meetings are small scale and held indoors. The state also has been reported to intimidate and threaten leaders of the Federation of Somali Trade Unions and the National Union of Somali Journalists.

Expression

Attacks on journalists continue in Somalia, although the provisional Constitution protects free speech.

Attacks on journalists continue in Somalia, although the provisional Constitution protects free speech. The Al-Shabaab armed group prohibits journalists from operating in areas under its control and continues to detain, threaten and harass media workers throughout the country.

Journalist have been arbitrary arrested in response to their investigative and critical reporting of the government or just questioning government officials. They have also faced violence and threats from government and non-state actors including kidnappings and attacks, including from Al-Shabaab.

Killings of journalists largely go uninvestigated and arrests and prosecutions are rare. A new repressive media law passed in July 2017 contains vaguely-worded provisions, broad restrictions on journalists and gives powers to the authorities to prosecute media workers

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