The International Federation of Journalists today condemned the harrassment of the media in Somalia, following the continued detention and possible three-year prison sentence of the editor-in-chief of a leading independent publication.
On 21 April, Abdishakur Yusuf Ali, editor-in-chief of the War-Ogaal newspaper was arrested by the Puntland autonomous administration in the North-Eastern region of Somalia. Abdishakur was accused of publishing false information in a report about the sale of humanitarian aid suppplies by the Puntland Finance Minister to the United Arab Emirates. If convicted Abdishakur faces three years imprisionment.
"This is an attack by the Puntland administration on a journalist's right to report freely and criticize openly," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Imprisoning our colleague in highly difficult conditions is absolutely unacceptable".
Previously Abdishakur was detained in Bossaso while he is now held in another detention centre located one kilometre out of Bossasso. Only his wife has been allowed to visit him.
The local administration demanded that Abdishakur write a letter stating that the information he published was false, but local journalists understood that the administration were "fishing" for evidence to convict him. Puntland law states that the accused person must be brought to court within 24 hours, but nonetheless Abdishakur’s case was not submitted to the court.
The IFJ is calling for an end to this harassment and for the immediate release of Abdishakur from prison.
The IFJ is fully supporting its affiliate, the Somali Journalists Network (SOJON), who are monitoring the situation of Abdishakur Yusuf Ali. SOJON is maintaing close discussions with the Puntland administration in other to follow up this case.
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries
For more information contact:
IFJ Human Rights and Information Officer,
Tel.: +32 2 235 2207
Mr. Omar Faruk Osman
Somali Journalists Network (SOJON)