MOGADISHU, Somalia 23 May, 2022 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and the Somali Media Association (SOMA) strongly condemn the travesty of trial and the one year and four months jail sentence against three local journalists who were held in detention in Hargeisa since 13 April for covering the Hargeisa prison shooting incident.
On Monday, the Marodi Jeh Regional Court has sentenced MM Somali TV director, Mohamed Abdi Ilig and Horn Cable TV reporter, Abdijabar Mohamed Hussein with one year and four months in prison for what the judges described as “publication of false news”. The court acquitted journalist Abdirahman Ali Khalif of Gobonimo TV.
According to the lawyers and journalists, the Monday hearing took place in hastened proceedings without the knowledge of the defence lawyers and family members of the defendants. Lawyers told SJS and SOMA that the judges were not independent from police intervention and as a result the judges were not able to pressure evidences for the charges brought by the state prosecutor against the journalists.
“We have been closely following the detention and the trumped up charges against the three journalists: Mohamed Abdi Ilig, Abdijabar Mohamed Hussein and Abdirahman Ali Khalif who remained in detention since 13 April. Authorities first invented false accusations against the three journalists but later resorted to use publication of false news with intent to cause fear and send a chilling signal to journalists community,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary-General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said. “We condemn the jail sentence against Mohamed Abdi Ilig and Abdijabar Mohamed Hussein today. We call for the Marodi Jeh Regional Court to drop this politically motivated sentence and immediately release our two colleagues.”
“We strongly condemn this travesty trial and the jail sentence against our colleagues in Somaliland today. This is another dark spot on Somaliland democracy. Journalists should not be intimidated and threatened through a sham trial,” Mohamed Osman Makaran, the Secretary-General of Somali Media Association (SOMA) said. “We call for the immediate and unconditional freedom of Mohamed Abdi Ilig and Abdijabar Mohamed Hussein.”
Separately, the Marodi Jeh Regional Court of Appeal on Monday handed two years in jail and a fine of three million Shilling (USD 372) on journalist and social activist, Abdimalik Muse Coldon who was imprisoned on 19 August 2021. prison and fined him.