Kilwe portrait is held at a journalists' protest organized by SJS in Mogadishu in late January 2021. | PHOTO/SJS.
Kilwe portrait is held at a journalists' protest organized by SJS in Mogadishu in late January 2021. | PHOTO/SJS.

MOGADISHU, Somalia, 22 March 2021 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) welcomes the release of freelance journalist Kilwe Adan Farah from the Garowe jail on Monday 22 March 2021 following Puntland president’s decree to grant a special pardon.

While we welcome our colleague’s freedom, it is important to note that Kilwe has not committed any crime and should not have been detained in the first place. He was illegally detained by Puntland intelligence and security agency (PISA) on 27 December 2020 a day after he reported anti-inflation protest in Garowe which irritated the Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni. He was held 84 days in jail, in which 16 of them he was held incommunicado, just for covering anti-inflation protest in Garowe.

Despite there being no evidence against Kilwe for the charges brought against him by the military prosecutors, which changes completely from ‘attempted murder and murder‘ to media related offences, the Puntland military court sentenced Kilwe twice on 3 and 17 March 2021 respectively.

“I am glad to be freed today. I am doing well and back to my family. I thank SJS and its lawyers Avv. Mustafe Mohamed Jama and barrister Michael Polak for their long efforts to my freedom,” Kilwe told SJS shortly after his release from the Garowe Central Prison.

Kilwe’s family also thanked SJS, local and international friends for the advocacy campaign seeking Kilwe’s freedom.

Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the secretary general of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said:

“While we take the Puntland president’s decree to pardon our colleague Kilwe as a welcome gesture, we reiterate that he has not committed any crime and as the court indicated several times, he remains innocent.  He should not have been detained in the first place. We call for the Puntland authorities to immediately start investigating those who detained, tortured and abused Kilwe through the military court process.

“Nobody is above the law and officials who have committed these serious human rights violations against Kilwe should be held accountable. Authorities in Puntland should also refrain from targeting and detaining journalists and media workers even if they are critical of state actions. Somalia and its federal member states cannot develop if our press is prevented from informing the public about what is happening.”

Avv. Mustafe Mohamed Jama who represented Kilwe in the court said:

“I’m relieved that my client Kilwe is free today. He was detained solely for conducting his job as a journalist and despite no evidences, he has witnessed a prolonged period of judicial harassment and continued disregard of the law.”

International barrister Michael Polak, who was part of the team assisting Kilwe’s case said:

‘It is fantastic that Kilwe is now free and back with his family. However, it should be remembered that he was seized because of his media work, kept incommunicado in an illegal secret detention centre, then subject to proceedings which were farcical including an appeal which was heard in his prison cell without a lawyer.  Kilwe should not have spent the last three months away from his family in a precarious position and the international community must do more to protect media freedom throughout Somalia.”