Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon said that “due process must be observed in the administration of justice.”
Daud Abdi Daud, a Somali journalist who was jailed without charges last week for making statements against the imprisonment of a fellow journalist has been released. However, he told the Associated Press that the government is considering charging him with “offending the president’s wife” for statements he made at a the sentencing hearing of a colleague and a woman who claims she was raped by security forces. Daud, who is a reporter for Radio Kulmive, did say that he was treated well by authorities while he was detained. After news of Daud’s arrest reached the international community, Human Rights Watch implored the Somali government to either release the reporter immediately or file charges.
The incident that led to Daud’s arrest revolves around the one-year prison sentences handed down by a Mogadishu court a woman who claims she was raped by governmental security forces and the reporter who interviewed her. After the sentences were handed down Daud says he spoke to the court saying, “a journalist can interview any woman at her home, even if she is the president’s wife.” The woman who is accusing security forces of raping her was charged with, “insulting a government body, inducing false evidence, simulating a criminal offense, and making a false accusation.” Daud’s fallow reporter, Abdiaziz Abdinur was charged with, “insulting a government body, and inducing the woman to give false evidence.”
Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon made a statement on Tuesday saying, “I reiterate my government’s commitment to a free press and freedom of speech. Journalists should feel that they are not alone. It is essential that they are able to work freely and effectively without facing additional difficulties.” But the group Reporters Without Borders point out that the arrest of Daud for speaking out is “an obvious act of intimidation, one that casts doubt on the sincerity of the Somali authorities. The police and courts must not become an additional threat to Somali journalists, who are already exposed to enormous dangers.” Leslie Lefkow, the Human Rights Watch deputy Africa director said, “They should not be shutting down free expression by jailing journalists and throwing away the key.”
Prime Minister Shirdon has said, “The Independent Task Force on Human Rights, which was launched earlier this month, will be looking at human rights abuses committed over the past 12 months.” According to the Committee to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Watch, Somalia is one of the “most dangerous countries in which to practice journalism.” They report that 18 Somali journalists were killed last year alone, and after the one journalist who was killed so far this year the total number of journalists murdered since 2007 is 45.