Strict bail conditions for journalist in Somalia after arrest in action

in officers Somalia Strict bail conditions have been imposed on a respected journalist and media rights campaigner that will prevent him from seeking medical attention for a suspected kidney condition that worsened during his detention by the intelligence services and police earlier this year.

Abdalle Mumin is the co-founder of Somali Journalists Syndicate and a Contributor to The Guardianwas arrested in October after press organizations protested that directives issued by the information ministry on coverage of an attack against Islamist militants in the volatile East African state put them at risk.

The 35-year-old, who splits his time between Kenya and Somalia, was held for three days in a notorious prison run by the intelligence services, then transferred to police custody for 10 days, before being released on bail. given. Abdal is now banned from working or leaving the country.

“We were just trying to be neutral and do our job independently. I am facing serious threats to my life [from Islamic extremists] and from the government. I cannot leave the hotel where I am staying. but i’m not allowed to return home [to Nairobi, Kenya] Because they have taken my passport and put me on the list of banned people. I need medical attention and I need to see my family,” said Abdelle. “Western donors are supporting the Somali government but the same government is targeting journalists like me.”

Abdellah’s arrest caused concern in the British government, a major aid donor to Somalia. “Freedom of expression underlies all human rights. we urge [the Somali government] follow due process [and] For a fair trial of the case, “the British Embassy said those days.

Human Rights Watch, a global campaign organization, said the Somali government must end all harassment and arbitrary arrests of journalists by intelligence and other security forces, and called on the country’s international partners to conduct full, open reporting on the government. Apply pressure to allow. Issues of vital public interest, and to amend or repeal laws restricting freedom of expression and the right of the media.

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“The detention of Abdale Ahmed Mumin raises serious concerns about the new administration’s commitment to media freedom,” said the group’s Horn of Letitia Bader. Africa Director, immediately after the arrest. “The Somali government needs to stifle legitimate news coverage and free speech by making unfounded national security claims.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists described Abdellah as a fearless and tireless advocate for the rights of Somali journalists to report news freely and independently.

CPJ’s Sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo, said “His arrest is an unacceptable aggression and is undoubtedly sending a wave of fear through the Somali media community.” said at that time, “The authorities … must work to create an environment in which Somali journalists can work without fear.”

Al-Shabaab, the Islamic extremist movement that controls most of the country’s rural areas, is an affiliate of al-Qaeda and is considered one of the most determined such groups in the world. It has resisted several military attempts to force it from its strongholds. There are reports that the acute humanitarian crisis in Somalia has undermined the group’s authority in many areas. unable or unwilling To provide assistance to millions of people at risk of famine.

Press freedom has been a major casualty of Somalia’s long-running armed conflict. During the previous administration of President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud, journalists faced threats and violence from the government and al-Shabaab. In Mogadishu, security officials banned reporting on al-Shabaab statements, temporarily shutting down at least three media outlets and arbitrarily arresting journalists.

A frequent contributor to the Guardian, Abdellah had previously received threats, and he survived an attack in early 2015 following his reporting for the Wall Street Journal on the assassination of an al-Shabaab leader, which prompted him to flee the country. Forced Since returning to Mogadishu, Abdale has been detained twice, most recently while conducting a training session on media freedom in the city of Jawhar.

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Security forces have often tried to justify this arrest of journalists and shutting down media outlets on grounds of national security.

On 8 October, the Ministry of Information issued a directive that “prohibited the dissemination of messages of extremist ideology through both traditional media broadcasts and social media,” and it announced the suspension of “more than 40 social media pages”. , where terrorists were doing the work of intimidation and provocation.” , and the wrong message.”

Officials asked journalists to refer to al-Shabaab as “Kharijites”, a historical Arabic term used to describe extremist insurgents.

Two days later, the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and four other media organizations issued a statement expressing concern that the directive could restrict legitimate speech and media freedom.

Abdale said the government was putting lives at risk because al-Shabaab has threatened to kill any journalists who comply with the new directive.

“The problem is how to operate in a country where there is danger from both sides… That is why we have asked for a review of the directive. This threatens the lives of journalists. We are facing another cycle of violence from two sides.

On the morning of 11 October, security forces attempted to enter the SJS office in Mogadishu. Abdalle was then contacted directly by an aide to the president and told to withdraw his complaint and follow instructions.

Shortly afterwards, he was arrested as he waited for a flight to Nairobi and taken to Godaka District’o, one of the main detention facilities operated by the intelligence services, where he was held for three days. was kept in a small underground cell for police custody. Abdellah’s lawyer, a relative and two aides have said he was denied access.

Abdel said: “There was no water, no food. It was very hot, there was no breeze and there were no windows. I could hear the cries and screams of other prisoners. When they questioned me, they wanted to know why I was criticizing the government.”

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During a court hearing on 16 October, prosecutors said they were investigating Abdlé for violating a new government directive and publishing “secret” footage. The court returned Abdel to police custody until his release on October 22 on strict bail conditions.

Officials contacted Abdale a week ago to offer the deal. If he made no further criticism of the government and issued a full apology, the charges against him would be dropped and he would be allowed to leave the country.

“I refuse,” he said. “If Somalia wants to be a peaceful and secure democracy, it must be safe for journalists.”

Attempts to contact Somali government officials for comment on the matter were unsuccessful.

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