Somaliland: Hubaal Protest Letter to President Silanyo

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Somalilandsun – Hon. Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud

The President

The Republic Of Somaliland

Presidential Place

Hargeisa, Maroodi Jeex,Somaliland.

(Cc: Amnesty Intentional/Human Rights Watch/CPJ/SoLJA/US Department of State/UK Foreign Office/DfID/EU office in Somaliland/Somaliland Chief of Justice/Somaliland Speaker of the House of Guurti/Somaliland Parliamentary Subcommittee on Internal & Security Affairs/ African Union/IGADD/Somaliland Lawyer’s Association/Article 19/Somaliland Focus UK/UN Somalia/Somaliland Office/OHCHR)

Subject: A Protest Letter

Dear Mr. President:

We, HUBAAL MEDIA NETWORK (HMN), a privately owned media house whose ultimate aim is to

promote democratic values and provide a platform of civic debate, would like to express to you our deep concern about the reluctance in investigation and trial of the seven month old criminal case in which we were attacked, apparently by an attempt to murder us, by two police officers (one at large and one behind the bars).

We are particularly disturbed by the news that the perpetrator under custody was released and allowed to walk free without any court trial while the whereabouts and the identity of the second perpetrator had never been investigated.

A Quick Timeline of Hubaal’s Case

 On 1st Augost 2012, the Director General of the Ministry of Information false accused us that we

operate without proper license from the authority. In response to this our daily Somali edition carried

a photo of our license in the next day’s issuance to respond to these allegations.

 In the first week of April 2013, the newspaper published an article relying on sources that stated a

large governmental procurement contract had been given to a close family member of the President

of Somaliland to import goods. The article stated that the family member significantly marked up the

price of the goods when doctoring the manifests an upon importation so that the government paid a

significantly higher price for the goods than the real price. The following week, the newspaper

published another article relying on sources that stated a natural resource extraction company had

given large logistics and facilities management contracts to other members of the President’s family

rather than companies from the area where the company operates who were competent to fulfill the

requirements. The week after, the newspaper published yet another article relying on sources that

stated that the Minister of Finance had hired a significant number of family members into positions

they were not competent.

 On 24 April 2013, two masked men attacked the Hubaal newspaper facilities and beat the editor. One was captured by the newspaper’s staff and was recognized as a policeman with close ties to the Presidential Palace. While the other escaped and still remains at large

 The last article was published on the 8th of June 2013. The final article relied on sources that stated a high level delegation coming to visit the Somaliland government was not indeed Yemeni businessmen seeking to invest in Somaliland (as the government publicly announced), but rather were Egyptian diplomats coming to discuss the Grand Renaissance Dam and the relationship between Egypt and Somaliland. This revelation angered the government of Ethiopia which has been a long-standing supporter of Somaliland.

 On 11 June 2013, the Attorney General filed the criminal charges against the editor of the Hubaal newspaper and petitioned the court to attach the newspaper. The court of first instance granted the AG’s petition on the same day and ordered the newspaper to immediately stop its publication. A week later, we (both the editor and the managing director) were arbitrarily arrested for a day and have been provided a “so-called” presidential pardon without ever getting a court hearing.

 On 20th August 2013, the newspaper recommenced published.

 On 28th November 13 (a week ago), we were shocked to learn about the release of the assailant caught by us in the April attack without our knowledge and, and above all, without any single court hearing. When we tried to enquire as to why this had happened, we’ve not only been told anything by the military court

 On 2nd December 2013, Hubaal requested from the ministry of Interior a permit to express the deep concern in a peaceful protest but were denied to this constitutional right. Hubaal, however, proceed with it. When the protest finished peacefully, the donor-money funded police forces cracked down journalists who have been covering this event, namely:

o Saed Khader (Editor-in-chief, Bulsho TV)

o Abdisalaan Abdirashid (Cameraman, Bulsho TV

o Hassan Maal Dhidar (Cameraman, Universal TV)

o Abdiasis Rashid Nur ( Reporter, xogreebnews.com)

Motives Behind Hubaal’s Attack?

Since you took office on 26th June 2010, your administration has been trying very hard to directly or indirectly silence media outlets by using multiple strategies including, but not limited to, bribery, employment opportunities and monetary incentives offered to journalists and media house owners. This simple fact , your honor, is confirmed by the fact that your government includes more than 27 veteran journalist, among them are the minister of finance, your press secretary and many others. This is very unfortunate, given your promise during your election 2010 election that you’ll commit yourself to ensure an enabling legal and policy environment for media freedom.

Hubaal had been approached many a times for similar offers but we chose to stick our mission which is “to acquire, produce, and distribute programs that meet the highest standard of journalism and integrity”. Our principle-oriented journalist work is the primary reason why we are being targeted by your political appointees. Hubaal has become to be a reliable watchdog for all Somalilanders and won the heart and minds of all citizens in their quest to be informed about how the government is conducting the tasks entrusted it by the people.

Every crime has motives or causes. We believe that the publications of different sequential articles published by Hubaal Newspaper in effort of caring the public interest were the motives that caused the armed attack against us.

Our Message

The release of Mr. Ahmed Hassan Hashi, the attacker -a uniformed police officer who was supposed to protect the public, and the failure of law enforcement agencies to investigate, and identify the other assailant for seven (7) months is denying us multiple rights which are guaranteed under Articles 21, 22, 23 to 36 of Somaliland’s own constitution to which you should act as your oath of the office of the presidency.

If our appeal for justice keeps be to be ignored and undermined by local authorities, it will legitimize the use of the state machinery in general and the judicial system in particular as a means to silence and oppress the media’s right to tell and the people’s right to know. The ‘no progress’ in the investigation of the case and the release of the criminal under custody is a serious a signal that all those that have a stake in Somaliland’s stability, democratization and statehood should be alerted – the reason why we copied this letter to many other actors.

We strongly appeal to you, as the head of state, to instruct the law enforcement agencies and the cheif to take appropriate action, giving us (and all other Citizens of Somaliland) the opportunity to have a fair trial regarding the case of our attempted murder while ensuring that ALL are equal before the law no matter their opinion, profession, rank, race, religion and political affiliation. Thus it is vital to ensure that the investigation and trial of these perpetrators be carried out in a transparent, timely and fair manner.

Regards,

For detailed information of this case,please click the following key links:

1. Somaliland: Aloley Tells of the Recent Plight of His Hubaal Newspaper and Future Plans

2. Somaliland: Hubaal Media Gets Presidential Reprieve

3.Somaliland: Hubaal Duo Released as SOLJA Thanks the Government

4. Somaliland: Hubaal Duo Imprisoned as SOLJA Accuse the State of Covert Intent to Muzzle Freedom of the Press

5. Somaliland: Hubaal Duo Face Charges of Propagating False Information

6. Somaliland: Interior Ministry Acknowledges Media Owner Attacked by Rogue Police

7. Somaliland: Attack on Hubaal Media House Raises Hue and Cry

8. Somaliland: Newspaper Editor Foils Purported Assassination Attempt

9. Somaliland: Court Orders Journalist’s Arrest

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