MOGADISHU, Somalia 15 January 2021 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) is deeply concerned about the politically motivated charges of attempted murder by the Puntland military court against freelance journalist Kilwe Adan Farah after he was held incommunicado in Garowe since 27 December.
SJS is also worried about Kilwe’s physical and mental health conditions following reports of torture by the Puntland Intelligence Agency (PISA) for more than two weeks in the PISA detention in Garowe.
On the evening of 27 December, officers from PISA in Garowe, the capital of Puntland State, detained journalist Kilwe, who reports for Kilwe Media Inc, a Facebook news page he co-founded. The arrest came a day after anti-inflation protesthit Garowe town, which Kilwe has covered. He was held at undisclosed PISA detention without the access of family and lawyers, family members told SJS.
On Monday 11 January 2021, without the knowledge of his family and without the presence of lawyers, Kilwe was transferred to Garowe central prison and was reportedly charged with “attempted murder” by the Puntland military court. Family members said they did not see the charge sheet but were only read to them by a military court official.
An official at the Puntland Attorney General’s Office told SJS “Article 87 of Puntland Constitution prohibits charging civilians at a military court while Article 27 of Puntland Constitution bans arresting citizens in unlawful detention centres” and therefore Kilwe’s detention amounts to a serious violation of the local laws and contravenes international human rights standards.
Two local human rights defenders, who sought anonymity, told SJS that they believe that Kilwe was targeted due to his critical coverage on the 26 December protests which irritated Puntland’s president Said Abdullahi Deni. Local journalists also told SJS that allegations of attempted murder brought against journalist Kilwe were meant to intimidate and silence free press in Puntland.
“We are extremely concerned by the fake and politically motivated charges against our friend journalist Kilwe Adan Farah by Puntland State authorities. It is clear that these charges, which only came after his detention and following the reports of torturing him, is a subsequent prosecution linked to his work as a journalist,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said.
“We call for Puntland authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Kilwe and allow him to reunite with his wife and two daughters and allow him to continue his journalism work without any further intimidation and harassment. Also Puntland authorities should honestly and thoroughly investigate the reports of the torture against Kilwe and bring those responsible at the courts.” (END)