Human Rights Centre annual report cover a wide range of human rights issues and is based on the organizations’ monitoring and documentation of human rights issue in Somaliland in 2019. The report is a result of the daily documentation, interviews of survivors, experts, and government officials, and review of official documents such as court judgments.
The report highlights the increasing arrests of journalists, closure of media houses and restriction of public opinion through demonstration remains, as usual, being restricted. Jailed without a warrant or summon, and then simply kept in detention without judicial order guides perilous situations, people usually face indefinite detentions. It is generally recognized that Article 32 of the Somaliland Constitution protects and values the freedom of expression in parallel with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In the period covered by this report, in this year of 2020, the Human Rights Centre has recorded 60 people arrested for issues related to freedom of expression, including 14 people who are Journalists and 44 people who are not journalists.
On 14th April 2020, Mohamed Abiib Yuusuf, a ruling party politician, was taken into police custody after he criticized the quarantine measures of the government regarding people who tested positive for COVID-19. He was released on 4th of May 2020 without any charge.
On 16th April 2020, the police also arrested Abdirahman Mohamed Dahir (Aka Abdi Duco) for a Facebook post which was also critical of the government measures concerning curbing COVID-19. He was released on 19 April without trial.
On 23th April 2020, Abdiwahaab Osman Omar, an activist based in Borama, was also arrested for a Facebook post critical of the government, He was released on 8th June without charge.
On 29th June, 2020, Somaliland Police arrested the young poet Abdirahman Shucay (aka Shucayb Yare) after he read a poem about political issues. He was released at the next day without charge.
On April 20th 2020, the government of Somaliland arrested Hamda Yousuf Ibrahim and Barwaaqo Mohamed Hashi after the two singers performed shows in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. They were charged with anti-national activity of a citizen abroad (article 212 of the Penal Code) and corruption of a citizen by foreigners (article 189). Both charges are related to the visit and performing of a music concert in Mogadishu, They were released on June 24th 2020, by the Court of Appeal.
On October 26th 2020, Somaliland police arrested a musician, Mohamed Cabdi Abdilahi (aka Qamar Sugani) in Berbera after he had performed a show in Muqdisho. He was released without charge on November 4th 2020.
On 1st July 2020, Hugur Abdi Hassan was arrested by the police in Gabiley for wearing outfits of the Somalia flag. He was later released without charges.
Mukhtaar Abiib Yuusuf, a Somaliland citizen, who prepared tea with the decoration of Somalia Flag was arrested same as a comedian from Somalia was publicized the tea which has been decorated with Somalia flag was arrested after 38 days of detention, Hargeysa regional court has ordered to deport both of them into Somalia.
On 28th July, 2020, Degan Cumar Daahir Miiraash was arrested in Hargeysa, She was charged with Instigation Disobey the Laws (Article 321 of the Penal Code) after she wore clothes of Somalia flag and decorated to her bed with that flag, and then posted in to social media. On 12th of Sep, 2020, the regional court of Somaliland sentenced her for six months.
On 28th November 2020, Abdirisaaq Mohamed Ibraahim, a Somaliland citizen living in Berbera was arrested in Berbera, for a Facebook post about political issues, He was released the next day 29th November, 2020.
Detention of Journalists and the Closure of Media Houses.
Media situation in Somaliland worsening and there is no change and any positive result. Arrests and threatening of journalists, suspension of media houses is becoming the order of the day. Although, Somaliland Constitution and the SomalilandPress law in 2004 granted media rights, journalists are arrested and prosecuted per outdated Penal Code. HRC recorded arrest of 14 journalists and closure of two media houses.
Case Study: Detentions
On May 25th of 2020, Abdirahman Ali Hidig, a reporter for Eryal TV was arrested and sentenced in Ceerigaabo at the same day of his arrests through summary trial without lawyer. He was sentenced one year and nine months in to prison and fine of three million Somaliland shillings which is equivalent with 352US Dollars. The governor of Ceerigaabo ordered his arrest. The Court of appeal released him later. In May 2020, he was arrested again and released after the mayor withdrew the case.
Ilyas Abdi, a reporter of Radio Ergo was arrested on 14th of September by the police of Somaliland for Facebook Post. He was released on 22 September 2020 without charge.
Barwaaqo Hassan Haji Farah, a reporter of Sahan TV, was arrested in Hargeisa, on 22nd October, 2020, by the police, while she was in the middle of a Vox-pop interview, at the downtown of Hargeisa. Her interview was about a woman raped and killed in Burcao. The police ordered to stop the interview and arrested her. She was released after she spent eight hours of detention.