Nairobi, Kenya, March 23, 2009 – The
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Monday condemned a
five-month jail term slapped on Somali journalist Mohamed Abdi Guled,
the editor of the private weekly magazine Yool, by a court in Hargeysa,
In a statement signed by Gabriel Baglo, the director of IFJ Africa
office, the media rights body said Mr. Guled was committed to prison
last week for allegedly "spreading lies" and publishing a newspaper that
is not “legally registered.”
“Journalists in Somaliland continue to face intolerable intimidation
such as arbitrary imprisonment, which undermines their ability to work
freely. We condemn this practice of suppressing independent reporting
and proper scrutiny of figures of authority," Mr Baglo was quoted as
Mr Guled was arrested on 26 February, following publication two days
earlier of an article about extrajudicial executions in Somaliland,
blaming some government officials for their role in these killings.
The judge convicted Mr Guled on the basis of the testimony from an
anonymous witness, who was not cross-examined by the defense as required
by due process.
The Somali National Union of Journalists (NUSOJ), an IFJ affiliate, also
strongly condemned the decision which it described as a gross
miscarriage of justice.
''This decision is part of an unacceptable harassment campaign aimed at
silencing journalists," the statement quoted Mr. Omar Faruk Osman Nur,
the NUSOJ General Secretary, as saying.
"It is a gross miscarriage of justice against our colleague, which
should not stand," he said.
IFJ called upon the authorities of Somaliland to immediately release Mr.
Guled and to ensure that the rights of journalists and press freedom are
upheld in the country.
By Juma Kwayera, PANA Correspondent