Somalia sentences journalist to two months imprisonment

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A Somali court on Monday sentenced a freelance journalist to two months in prison on charges of threatening national security, according to a press association, a case criticized by human rights activists and media groups.

The conviction of Abdalle Ahmed Mumin is “a clear travesty of justice,” the president of the Somali Journalists’ Union (SJS) said on Twitter, promising to appeal the decision against the journalist, who is also the secretary general of his organisation.

It “not only sends a chilling message to the entire media community but also instils fear among professionals and press freedom groups,” Ibrahim added.

Prior to the conviction, human rights groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Press Institute, had called for the prosecution to be dropped, saying that Mumin had been subjected to ongoing threats and persecution by the Somali authorities for defending the right to freedom of expression.

The prosecutions contribute “significantly to the closure of civic space in the country,” they said in a joint letter to Somalia’s attorney general in December.

Abdalle Ahmed Mumin was arrested in October, shortly after a government decision to step up the crackdown on media outlets that the authorities believe are involved in propaganda for the radical Shebab.

The SJS union and four other media groups had protested against the government’s decision, saying it would restrict freedom of expression.

The NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks Somalia 140th (out of 180 countries) on its global press freedom list with more than 50 journalists killed in the country since 2010.

According to RSF, Somalia (population 17 million) is the most dangerous country for journalists in Africa.

They are mainly threatened by the al-Qaeda-linked Shebab who are trying to overthrow the internationally-backed government, but the authorities are also accused of violations against them.


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