Journalist Mohamed Ibrahim Bulbul, SJS Information and Human Rights Secretary. | Photo/File.
Journalist Mohamed Ibrahim Bulbul, SJS Information and Human Rights Secretary. | Photo/File.

Justice Abroad’s Michael Polak has submitted a complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for the Information and Human Rights Secretary of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), Mohamed Bulbul. The complaint concerns Mr Bulbul’s arbitrary arrest and detention, without a lawful charge or warrant, based on his investigative work about corruption in the Somali Police Force. Mr Bulbul has been held for 12 days without charge and without access to his Somali lawyers in breach of the Somalian Constitution and international human rights provisions. 

On 17 August 2023, at 8am SJS Information and Human Rights Secretary and editor at Kaab TV, Mohamed Ibrahim Osman Bulbul was unlawfully arrested and detained by unidentified plain-clothed individuals allegedly linked to national intelligence and the police in Mogadishu. The armed men physically attacked Mr. Bulbul, punched his chest and used their pistols to batter his right shoulder.

The unlawful seizure of Mr Bulbul followed his reporting the day before that senior Somali police officers who had participated in a capacity building training seminar organised and funded by the European Union (EUCAP Somalia) were suspected of misusing funds in connection with the seminar.

At the time of his unlawful arrest, Mr. Bulbul was participating in a class at Mogadishu University. After the assault, the assailants forcibly transported Mr. Bulbul into an unmarked waiting vehicle resulting his disappearance. Hours later, he was located at the Hamar Jajab criminal investigation department (CID). Mr. Bulbul has been repeatedly denied access to legal representation and communication with his family, was not produced before a court within 48 hours as required by the Somalian Constitution, and his arrest and detention was made without a warrant.

The complaint on behalf of Mr. Bulbul sets out that his detention is in flagrant breach of the Somali Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Mr. Bulbul’s arrest and detention was made without lawful warrant or charge contrary to Article 9(2) ICCPR, and he was subjected to interrogation by police officers without the presence of legal counsel. In violation of Article 35(2) of the Somalian Constitution, Mr. Bulbul was not informed of the reason for his arrest or detention.

Mr. Bulbul has been deprived of his liberty for reasons of discrimination based on his investigative journalism work as Information and Human Rights Secretary of the Somali Journalist Syndicate. 

Michael Polak stated ‘Unfortunately the Somalian authorities continue to seek to repress press freedom in Somalia which is particularly important for development and for the prevention of abuses of power and corruption. We call for the unconditional release of Mr Bulbul and for the authorities to comply with the fair trial provisions under the Somalian Constitution and their obligations under international law. The European Union should also speak out for Mr Bulbul given that he was unlawfully seized for reporting on corruption involved with the misuse of funds for their training.’

SJS Secretary-General, Abdalle Ahmed Mumin stated “While we strongly condemn the continued arbitrary detention of my colleague, Mohamed Ibrahim Bulbul in Mogadishu, we are glad with the submission to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD). We demand the unconditional and immediate freedom of Mohamed Bulbul who is solely detained for uncovering a severe corruption allegation involving Somali police and the European Union Capacity Building Mission (EUCAP) in Somalia.”

Notes to Editors

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