Somaliland releases journalist from incommunicado detention, holds three others in jail
MOGADISHU, Somalia 20 April, 2022 –Somali Media Association (SOMA) and the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) welcome the release of freelance journalist, Abdisalan Ahmed Awad who was held incommunicado since 3 April, 2022 as we express concern the decision to hold three other journalists at the central prison.
The journalist was freed on Wednesday morning from detention without charges. Officers from Somaliland intelligence service detained and beat him on 3 April from his home in Hargeisa after he filed complaints against the intelligence officers who attacked and injured him and another journalist on 18 March in Hargeisa.
Abdisalan was held at unlawful detention facility run by Somaliland national intelligence service in Hargeisa.
On 18 March, armed officers attached to Somaliland’s intelligence unit attacked and shot at Abdisalan Ahmed Awad and his colleague Ali Mahdi Jibril as they drove from a hotel in the city centre of the capital, Hargeisa. Abdisalan sustained injuries due to beatings by the officers. The attackers were loudly telling the journalists to “stop their critical coverage” on president Muse Bihi Abdi. Unfortunately, when the journalist filed a complaint case against the Somaliland intelligence officers, he was again arrested and held incommunicado. Local human rights defenders and journalists told SJS and SOMA that the intelligence unit who carried out this attack is run by Ahmed Muse, the son of president Muse Bihi Abdi.
“We are relieved to hear that that journalist, Abdisalan Ahmed Awad, is free after 17 days of incommunicado detention. He was not charged and authorities are not willing to speak why they had detained this journalist in the first place,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary-General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said “We call Somaliland authorities to investigate and held accountable on its intelligence officers who attacked the journalists on 18 March and detained and held journalist Abdisalan Ahmed Awad incommunicado. No officer should act beyond the law.”
“Today we welcome the freedom of our colleague Abdisalan Ahmed Awad. However, we express concern about the increased targeting of journalists in Somaliland. We urge Somaliland authorities to stop the continued attacks on free press,” Mohamed Osman Makaran, the Secretary-General of Somali Media Association (SOMA) said.
On the other hand, SJS and SOMA express grave concern by the move to hold three journalists – Mohamed Abdi Ilig (MM TV), Abdirahman Ali Khalif (Gobonimo TV) and Abdijabar Mohamed Hussein (Horn Cable TV) – in the central prison after they were transferred from the Criminal Investigation Department on Wednesday where they were held since 13 April. We call Somaliland authorities to free these three journalists without delay and stop the retaliation punishment against them.