DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) presented to the 60th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) the Overview of the Human Rights Situation in the East and Horn of Africa November 2016 – April 2017. This is the section on Somaliland.
Although there has been relative peace in Somaliland, the past year has seen an increase in violations towards HRDs and journalists who are critical of the government; they have faced intimidation, arbitrary arrests, and accusations of publishing false news.
On 23 January 2017, both the chairperson and editor-in-chief of Hubsad newspaper, Abdirashid Nur Ways and Said Khadar Abdilahi, were charged with publishing false news and operating an unlicensed newspaper after they published an article discussing irregularities found in the sale of state-owned land.
On 4 February 2017, prominent human rights lawyer and chairperson of Somaliland’s Human Rights Center, Guleid Ahmed Jama, was detained and arrested for filing a petition calling for police reforms. Police then questioned the editor-in-chief of Sahan newspaper, to whom Guleid had given an interview discussing the petition. The following day Ahmed Hussein Ali, spokesperson for the Human Rights Center, was also arrested after he issued a press statement condemning the arrest of his colleague.
On 15 February 2017, Abdimalik Muse Oldon, an independent journalist and blogger, was arrested at the airport in Hargeisa after returning from Mogadishu where he met with the newly elected president of Somalia. He was sentenced to two years in prison on 8 April 2017 by a regional court in Hargeisa for spreading anti-nationalist activities and endangering peace and security in the region.
On 20 February 2017, Baashe Hassan, director of Star TV was arrested by Somaliland police after criticising the Somaliland government for allowing the United Arab Emirates to build a military base on the port of Berbera. He was released on bail five days later.
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Guleid Ahmed Jama
Human Rights Center