Somaliland sends a chilling message to free press: Appeals Court upholds 3.5 jail sentence for journalist Oldon
MOGADISHU, Somalia, 29 September, 2019 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) is strongly outraged by the acts of denial of fair trail and miscarriage of justice by the Somaliland authorities after the Marodi Jeh Appeals Court in Hargeisa upheld three and half years jail term against journalist Abdimalik Muse Oldon today on 29 September, 2019
Journalist Oldon was early morning on Sunday taken to the court from the prison cell, under heavy police escort without prior notice to his family and lawyer. At the court, the police requested judges to uphold the previous three and half jail sentence handed to Oldon on July 08, 2019.
Oldon was arrested from Buroa town on 17 April over his reporting and social media posts deemed to be critical to the state, according to the charge sheet.
“I am very saddened by the unjust verdict against my client Abdimalik Muse Oldon. It is even worse than everything that the police took him out of the cell secretly without giving notice to the lawyer and the family,” lawyer Jamal Hussein who was due to represent Oldon at the court but did not attend said.
A journalist who witnessed the court session on Sunday told Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) that two other defense lawyers of Oldon were not also present.
On September 18, Oldon’s lawyer, Mubarik Abdi Ismail quit his role as the defense lawyer citing intimidations and threats.
SJS believes is that this verdict is a clear sign that Somaliland is sending a chilling message about the state of press freedom. We call for Somaliland’s High Court to quash this unfair verdict and immediately set free Oldon.
“We are appalled by the unjust decision by the Marodi Jeh Appeals Court. The High Court should immediately review this and quash the verdict,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said “Furthermore Somaliland should stop judicial harassment, ongoing intimidation including arbitrarily arrests and threats against the journalists and the media in general.”
The violence against independent media, restrictions and acts of censorships have worsened in Somaliland. 17 journalists have been detained by Somaliland police since January this year.
“The authorities should stop the ongoing media crackdown and respect the media freedoms enshrined in the Somaliland Constitution and allow independent journalists to operate without fear of reprisals,” Mr. Mumin adds