The Somali government should immediately release journalist Abdulasis Abdinuur Ibrahim and three other people detained in connection with a woman's alleged rape by Somali soldiers, Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Watch said in a statement Wednesday (January 23rd).
"Somalia's new government is saying the right things about the rule of law and a free press, but locking up journalists and others who report rape sends the opposite message," said Africa director at Human Rights Watch Daniel Bekele. "The authorities should release the four detainees and ensure that the police investigate sexual violence effectively."
The alleged rape victim, Lul Ali Hassan, Ibrahim and two acquaintances who put Hassan in touch with Ibrahim are in police custody and have been held for over a week without charges.
In response to criticism about the incarceration, the Somali government has reiterated its commitment to protecting journalists and ensuring freedom of expression, while defending the detention of Ibrahim for investigating the alleged rape of Hassan.
The Somali police have said Ibrahim and women's rights groups paid Hassan to make false claims against the security forces.
"The results of the medical examiner confirm that Lul has not been raped and as she admitted voluntarily, the story was bogus," Minister of Interior and National Security Abdikarim Hussein Guled said.
The National Union for Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has expressed concern with the way the case is being handled, especially after a hearing scheduled for Tuesday was postponed at the request of Attorney General Abdulkadir Mohamed Ali Muse.
"On behalf of the Somali journalists, I call for the Somali government to release the journalist and launch an independent commission to thoroughly investigate the bottom of this case," said NUSOJ Secretary General Mohamed Ibrahim, according to Somalia's RBC Radio.