The International Federation of Journalists today protested over the “undemocratic and excessive” decision handed down against the editor of a weekly newspaper by a court in Garowe the headquarters of Puntland autonomous regional administration in northeast Somalia.
On 19 June, acting under Presidential powers police arrested Abdi Farah Nur, an editor working for the weekly paper Shacab, along with two other personnel of a printing agency directed by the same company that own the newspaper. The two media staffers were later released.
In a hearing, three days later, the judge ruled that Abdi Farah Nur should be transferred to Garowe top-security prison and held for an undetermined period as a consequence of ongoing investigations into allegations accusing him of violating orders from the Puntland Council of Ministers who had suspended Shacab on 5 May.
“This is an undemocratic and excessive verdict that encourages the increasing policies of oppression by Puntland officials,” said SOJON Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman. “To detain someone for an undetermined period of time without clear charges smacks of corruption and injustice”.
The presiding judge asked Abdi Farah Nur for the reasons behind his decision to reconvene printing of Shacab in spite of the decision taken by the Puntland Council of Ministers.
According to the IFJ affiliate in Somalia, the Somali Journalists’ Network, (SOJON), Nur defended himself by simply stating, “I was doing my job”. The Judge subsequently ordered the transfer of the editor to a top-security prison in Garowe and recommended that he should be detained for an undefined period of time. The judge also released a Shacab journalist Abdirahman Qoondeeye who was arrested with the editor.
“Decisions to treat journalists as criminals will only serve to kill the little free expression that exists in Somalia,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “We fully support SOJON in their appeal to the Puntland authorities to reverse this harsh decision as we work together to defend the independent work of private media in Somalia”.
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The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries