26th December 2015 – Human Rights Centre calls on the government of Somaliland to drop the criminal charges against Hubsad journalists. Cabdirashiid Nuur Wacays, chairman of Hubsad newspaper, and Siciid Khadar Cabdilaahi, editor-in-chief of Hubsad newspaper, were arrested on 30th November in Hargeisa. They were released on bail on 3rd December. But, the criminal case is still pending at the Regional Court of Hargeisa.
The journalists are accused of running unlicensed newspaper. There has not been a court proceeding that has determined any illegality of the newspaper’s registration. Hubsad is a registered newspaper, but the ownership and leadership has transferred from previous management to new leadership, according to Hubsad journalists and government issued documents seen by HRC. Cabdirashid and Siciid visited on 30th November at the Office of the Attorney General to file the transfer. However, the Attorney General instantly arrested them from his office. The Office of the Attorney General is responsible the registration of press, according to article 6 of the Press Law.
“The charges are absurd. As government documents proof Hubsad newspaper was registered in 2010 in accordance with the Somaliland Press Law. There is no law requiring reregistration of newspapers when the management or ownership changes. The law does not say newspapers are to be closed down if editors leave,” says Guleid Ahmed Jama, the chairperson of Human Rights Centre.
“The Office of the Attorney General (which is the registrar office) in which Hubsad journalists have a legal argument decided to press criminal charges. This is against impartiality. It is unacceptable the Attorney General to prosecute those he has a disagreement. The courts shall have jurisdiction to determine whether the Attorney General’s arguments have a legal grounds. This is purely civil matter and has nothing to do with criminal charges,” adds Guleid.
Hubsad is the second newspaper in Somaliland which is outlawed by the authorities. Haatuf Newspaper shut down on April 2014 is still closed down.
Human Rights Centre calls on the government of Somaliland to drop all charges against Hubsad journalists and to allow publication of Hubsad newspaper.
Guleid Ahmed Jama
Chairperson, Human Rights Centre