The year 2015 is ending with yet another journalist being arrested in Somalia, at least the third in the last seven days.
On 18 December 2015, Abdirisak Ahmed, a freelance journalist, was arrested by the Somali National Intelligence Security Agency along with Star FM reporter Abukar Mohamed in Mogadishu. Abukar Mohamed was released without charge the following day, however Abdirisak Ahmed has remained detained at Godka Jilacow prison to date. He has not been charged with an offence, brought before a court or granted access to visits.
In November 2014, Abdirisak Ahmed was held in detention for three days by the Somali authorities before his eventual release.
Abdirisak Ahmed is at least the third journalist to be arbitrarily detained in the last week. On 20 December Ahmed Omar, a reporter for Shabelle radio, was also arrested by the police in Mogadishu. He was taken to a police station but released later the same day.
“These arrests are made without a warrant or respect for due process, and indicate an increasingly hostile work environment for journalists in Somalia” said Hassan Shire, Executive Director of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (DefendDefenders). “Media workers must be allowed to conduct investigations and broadcast information about current events in Somalia without fear of arrest, and the government of Somalia must respect and adhere to its own regional and international obligations.”
The right to freedom of expression is guaranteed under Somalia’s constitution, although a draft media law currently being discussed in Parliament could endanger this right and have a chilling effect on media workers. Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, which Somalia is bound by, provides citizens with the right to express and disseminate opinions and views within the law whilst article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also guarantees the right to freedom of expression and opinion.
DefendDefenders calls on the Somali authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Abdirisak Ahmed. DefendDefenders also urges the authorities to ensure that he is granted unrestricted access to both his family and lawyer.