Monday, March 23, 2009

Somaliland:ation condemns imprisonment of Somaliland journalist

Media federation condemns imprisonment of Somaliland journalist

Nairobi, Kenya - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Monday condemned a five-month jail term slapped on Somali journalist Mohamed Abdi Guled, the editor of the private weekly magazine Yool, by a court in semi-autonomous Somaliland province sitting in the capital, Hargeisa.

In a statement signed by Gabriel Baglo, the director of IFJ Africa office, the media rights body said Mr. Guled was committed to prison last week for allegedly "spreading lies" and publishing a newspaper that is not "legally registered."

"Journalists in Somaliland continue to face intolerable intimidation such as arbitrary imprisonment, which undermines their ability to work freely. We condemn this practice of suppressing independent reporting and proper scrutiny of figures of authority," Mr Baglo was quoted as saying.

Mr Guled was arrested on 26 February, following publication two days earlier of an article about extrajudicial executions in Somaliland, blaming some government officials for their role in these killings.

The judge convicted Mr Guled on the basis of the testimony from an anonymous witness, who was not cross-examined by the defence as required by due process.

The Somali National Union of Journalists (NUSOJ), an IFJ affiliate, also strongly condemned the decision which it described as a gross miscarriage of justice.

''This decision is part of an unacceptable harassment campaign aimed at silencing journalists," the statement quoted Mr Omar Faruk Osman Nur, the NUSOJ General Secretary, as saying.

"It is a gross miscarriage of justice against our colleague, which should not stand," he said.

IFJ called upon the authorities of Somaliland to immediately release Mr. Guled and to ensure that the rights of journalists and press freedom are upheld in the country.
Nairobi - 23/03/2009

By Juma Kwayera, PANA Correspondent


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