Human Rights Centre calls on the government of Somaliland to immediately release Mohamed Abiib Yuusuf and Abdirahmaan Mohamed Dahir (Abdi Duco) who have been arrested on Facebook posts critical to the government’s handling of COVID-19.
On 14th April 2020, Mohamed Abiib Yuusuf, a ruling party politician, was taken into police custody after he criticised the quarantine measures of the government regarding people who tested positive for COVID-19.
On 16th April 2020, the police also arrested Abdirahman Mohamed Dahir (aka Abdi Duco) for a Facebook post which was also critical to the government measures concerning curbing COVID-19.
Mohamed and Abdirahman are known in social media for their criticism of the government on different issues. Human Rights Centre is concerned that the government is using COVID-19 to silence critics.
Both of them are now in the detention facility of the Criminal Investigation Department in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.
The government of Somaliland has not publicly commented on the arrests. Sources confirmed to Human Rights Center that there were no warrants issued by a court for their arrests.
“We are very concerned that the government is restricting freedom of expression amid of COVID-19, and it is using the global pandemic to target critics,” says Yasmin Omar H Mahmoud, The chairperson of Human Rights Center.
“We call on the government of Somaliland to release these to social media users and accept that the people have a right to question the government’s actions or inactions on COVID-19. The government is not immune to criticism because of confirmation of COVID-19 in Somaliland,” she added.
According to article 32 of the Constitution “every citizen shall have the freedom, in accordance with the law, to express his opinions orally, visually, artistically or in writing or in any other way.”
Human Rights Centre calls on the government of Somaliland to immediately release the two citizens arrested for statements they posted on social media platforms and to respect freedom of expression and tolerate different opinions.