By Renson Mwakandana
The Banadir Regional Court in Somalia 🇸🇴 sentenced a freelance journalist to two months in prison on allegations of threatening national security on Monday, a case that has been criticized by human rights advocates and media organizations.
The conviction of Abdalle Ahmed Mumin is a “clear travesty of justice,” according to the president of the Somali Journalists’ Union (SJS), who promised to challenge the verdict against the journalist, who is also the secretary general of his organization, on Twitter.
Jail time for essentially being a journalist. A deplorable ruling @article19org @RSF_en @OSCE_RFoM @gijn @pressfreedom @IFEX @IFJGlobal @ICFJ @globalfreemedia @spj_tweets https://t.co/xU6V0zFO94— Obi Anyadike (@Enugu62) February 13, 2023
Ibrahim said that not only does it convey a chilling message to the whole media community, but it also instills dread among professionals and press freedom groups.
“We are disappointed by the court’s decision which clearly proves how the whole case was politically-motivated. We stand w @Cabdalleaxmed and we reiterate that journalism should not become a crime in Somalia," @SomaliMedia13 SG Mohamed Makaran said.https://t.co/FOQlfLGg1i— Somali Journalists Syndicate – SJS (@sjs_Somalia) February 13, 2023
Prior to the trial, human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Press Institute urged for the case to be abandoned, claiming that Mumin had faced constant threats and harassment for protecting the right to free expression.
The prosecutions “significantly contribute to the closure of civic space in the country,” they wrote to Somalia’s attorney general in December. Abdalle Ahmed Mumin was detained in October, just after the government announced a crackdown on media outlets suspected of spreading propaganda for the extreme Islamist group Shebab.
The SJS union and four other media organizations had criticized the government’s decision, claiming that it would limit freedom of expression. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks Somalia 140th (out of 180 nations) on its global press freedom index, citing the deaths of more than 50 journalists in the country since 2010.