The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has urged the Somaliland authorities to quash the conviction of two journalists in Hargeisa after Hargeisa Appeals Court freed the two journalists on bail.
Hassan Hussein Abdullahi and Mohamed Ahmed Jama – who are editor-in-chief and director of Hubaal newspaper respectively – were officially indicted by Hargeisa regional administration’s attorney general Farhan Mire Osman on 17 June 2013.
On 3 July, Hassan Hussein Abdullahi, also known as Keefkeef, received a two-year jail term and a fine of two million Somaliland shillings, while journalist Mohamed Ahmed Jama, also known as Aloley, received a one-year jail term and was fined one million Somaliland shillings.
On 4 July, the head of Court of Appeal Abdirashid Duran has accepted bail request as the appeal against 3 July ruling is filed. The judge having seen it with satisfaction decided to release the two convicted journalists on bail.
The jailed journalists who were in custody at Hargeisa Central Police Station since Wednesday awaiting their case to be brought before the court of Appeal, where released on Thursday. Since verdict was made on Wednesday, there has been a pressure on Somaliland authorities to release journalists and end harassments, including judiciary harassments.
On 11 June 2013, a court order issued by Hargeisa Regional Court ordered the Hubaal Media Group to close down its operations with immediate effect, without giving reasons for the action thus affecting both the daily Somali language (Hubal) and weekly English language (independent) newspapers, which are both published by Hubaal Media Group.
“Silencing Hubaal and jailing its journalists for publishing information that is in the public interest will have a chilling effect on all journalists in Somaliland. This sentence must be quashed and the newspaper must be allowed to continue its work without fear of closure or suspension,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
NUSOJ states that jailing journalists based on their reporting work would only criminalize journalism profession, and as such calls on the Somaliland authorities to close legal proceedings against journalists and their organizations and stop usage of criminal law against journalists.