Brussels — Somalia's new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, is making an official visit to the European Union in Brussels on January 29-31, 2013. EU officials should urge President Hassan to immediately release journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim and three others detained since January 10 for reporting on an alleged rape by Somali security forces in Mogadishu, Human Rights Watch said.
"Somalia's President Hassan should demonstrate to European donors his commitment to press freedom and addressing sexual violence," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "European officials should emphasize they expect Somalia's government to respect human rights and the rule of law, not undermine it by prosecuting people trying to report on rape."
Abdiaziz Abdinur was detained after interviewing a woman who alleged she had been raped by state security forces in late 2012. The woman retracted her claim after being detained for two days and interrogated by the police without legal counsel. She was released but her husband was detained in her stead - credible local sources say for insisting that his wife was raped.
The Somali police have accused Abdiaziz Abdinur, along with the alleged rape victim and four other individuals of colluding in fabricating the rape claim in an effort to taint the reputation of the Somali police, even though he never published his interview with the alleged rape victim. The authorities assert that Abdiaziz Abdinur was involved in an Al Jazeera report on rape in Mogadishu's displaced persons camps, a claim that Al Jazeera has dismissed publicly.
Four of those detained - the journalist, the alleged victim's husband, and a man and woman who helped introduce the wife to the journalist - are in Mogadishu Central Prison awaiting a court hearing.
All four are being held in violation of their internationally protected right to freedom of expression and information, Human Rights Watch said.
"The EU countries funding Somalia's police force need to make clear to the government that they won't be party to such injustice," Bekele said.