IFJ Calls on Somaliland Authorities to Withdraw Jail Sentences for Three Journalists, Newspaper Executive

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the authorities of Somaliland to withdraw jail sentences issued against three journalists and an executive at private newspaper Haatuf after they were convicted of defaming the President and to allow the newspaper to resume operations.

“We call on the authorities of Somaliland to drop the charges against Haatuf’s chairman and journalists and to let the newspaper resume operation,” said Gabriel Baglo Director of IFJ Africa office. “The authorities of Somaliland who are fighting to convince the international community that they respect democracy are choosing the wrong path if they follow through with these convictions. This is a clear violation of press freedom.”

Haatuf newspaper chairman Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, editor-in-chief Ali Abdi Dini and journalists Mohammed Omar Sheik and Mohammed Rashid Farah were sentenced by a Somaliland court on Sunday to jail terms ranging from two years to two years and five months. Farah was sentenced in absentia. The court fined the newspaper 5 million Somaliland shillings (800 US dollars) and revoked its licence.

The executive and the journalists of Haatuf have been held by authorities since January after they published articles about the president’s relatives and government members who were involved in corruption.

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemned the decision of the court and said the journalists exercised their profession independently and were completely right to investigate and report on issues of public importance and interest such as corruption, mismanagement or dishonesty in government.

"We condemn this expected and outlawed verdict as a calculated move of suppressing press freedom" said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

Somaliland is a de facto independent republic located in the northern part of Somalia, which is not recognized by any other country or international organization.

For further information contact the IFJ: +221 842 01 43
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries