The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today has vigorously denounced the one-year jail term to a freelance journalist in Somalia.
According to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), an IFJ affiliate, the journalist Abdiasis Abdinur Ibrahim aka Koronto, 25, was sentenced on February 5 by a court in Banadir Region (Mogadishu), to one year in prison for offending "reputation of national institution", spreading "false news" and "paying money to get false rape story".
"We called on authorities in Somalia to immediately quash the conviction as the trial is unfair. We encourage the defense to appeal the ruling. The IFJ is concerned about the situation of journalists and media practitioners in Somalia. The new authorities are highly expected to take effective action to promote press freedom and promote the security of journalists," said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Director.
NUSOJ said that after sentencing, the journalist Abdiasis Abdinur Ibrahim was immediately transferred to central prison in Mogadishu. He was arrested on 10 January after that of Mrs.Lul Ali Osman, 27, a woman who is alleged rape victim by security forces. She spoke to the journalist after her husband allegedly brought the journalist to her for an interview which has never been published. She was also sentenced to one year in prison.
IFJ joins NUSOJ to denounce the fact that the journalist Abdiasis Abdinur Ibrahim was detained beyond legal limit without charges and without legal representations for days. NUSOJ stated that the journalist's mobile phone was confiscated and his home searched. His trial started on 2 February but was adjourned. NUSOJ officials attending the trial said there were a lot of irregularities during the investigation, there were intimidations and constant violation of defense rights.
"Imprisoning a journalist simply for doing his job challenges media freedom and makes a mockery of the legal process in Somalia," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. "The Somali government should rectify this miscarriage of justice speedily."
NUSOJ also raised concern of prosecuting the journalist under Somali penal code. "Charging a journalist under penal code for doing his work means criminalizing journalistic work. We are against trying a journalist under penal code," said NUSOJ in a letter to the Minister of Interior.
Defamation and false news remain criminal offenses under Somalia's penal code. "The Somali government should urgently amend the Penal Code and decriminalize libel in order to allow journalists to exercise their profession," Baglo added.
For more information contact the IFJ on +221 33 867 95 86/87
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries