Somalilandsun – The continued presence of two journalists in police custody without being arraigned in court is not only a violation of their rights but contrary to Somaliland laws.
This is per the Human Rights Center-HRC in reaction to the arrest and subsequent detention of two local journalists from Hubsad newspaper Rashid Nuur Wais and Saeed Kadar Abdilahi who were arrest on orders of the attorney general on the 30th November but yet to appear in court.
In a statement, the HRC said neither the publishing of a newspaper nor exchanges of company ownership are crimes in Somaliland thence its demand for the expedited and unconditional release of the duo who also dabble as manager and reporter for local TV station Bulsho.
Meanwhile the Somaliland Attorney general Hasan Ahmed Aden remains adamant on the legality of his warrant ordering police to arrest the two journalists since they transgressed the law by publishing a unregistered newspaper while claiming its ownership currently belonging to others.
According to the local rights body the Attorney General acted outside the law by ordering the arrest and subsequent confinement of the duo despite Hubsad Newspaper not requiring re-registration for it is already register as per law and neither is the acquisition of Hubsad media company by the duo.
In conclusion the rights body expresses deep concern on the continued arrest of journalists in Somaliland where it has within year 2015 documented not only arrests of twenty (20) journalists but the outlawing of Newspapers as well.
Read below verbatim excerpts of the Human Rights Centre Press statement
Somaliland: Human Rights Centre calls on the release of arrested journalists
1st December 2015 16/2015 Press release
Human Rights Centre calls on Somaliland government to release Cabdirashiid Nuur Wacays and Siciid Khadar Cabdilaahi who were arrested on 30th November in Hargeisa.
Cabdirashiid Nuur Wacays, chairman of Hubsad newspaper and Siciid Khadar Cabdilaahi, editor-in-chief of Hubsad newspaper, were arrested while they were registering the names of new leadership and ownership of Hubsad newspaper. The authorities claim that the journalists were running unlicensed newspaper. Cabdirashid and Siciid also work for critical local television station called Bulsho Television.
There has not been court proceeding that has determined any illegality of the newspaper’s registration, sources confirmed to Human Rights Centre (HRC). Hubsad is a registered newspaper, but the ownership and leadership has transferred from previous management to new leadership. Cabdirashid and Siciid visited on 30th November the Office of the Attorney General to register the transfer. However, the Attorney General instantly arrested them from his office. The Press Law does not require re-registration of a media house if the ownership and staff change.
“Arresting of journalists have a negative effect to the freedom of media. The government shall stop arresting and intimidating the journalists. The government shall respect Somaliland constitution,” says Hana Abdisalaan Mohamed, deputy director of Human Rights Centre.
“The Office of Attorney General has already suspended registration of new newspapers in contrary to Somaliland Press Law. Arresting of those who try to takeover already working and registered newspaper violates the constitution and the Press Law,'” she adds.
Barkhad Mohamoud Geedi who works for Somalinews was arrested in Erigavo, east of Somaliland, on 29th November. He was released on 30th November. Khadar Cabdirisaaq of Hadhwanaag website was also briefly detained in Buroa, east of Somaliland, on 28th November.
Human Rights Centre documented this year arrests of twenty (20) journalists in Somaliland. Haatuf Newspaper shut down on April 2014 is still closed down. Human Rights Centre expresses deep concern on the arrests of journalists.
Hana Abdisalaan Mohamed
Deputy Director of Human Rights Centre