Responding to news of the detention on 11 October of Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, Secretary General of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, Muleya Mwananyanda, said:
Abdalle Ahmed Mumin is being arbitrarily held solely for defending the right to freedom of expression in SomaliaMuleya Mwananyanda, Director for East and Southern Africa
“Abdalle Ahmed Mumin is being arbitrarily held solely for defending the right to freedom of expression in Somalia and for raising concerns over the government’s blanket ban on what it calls ‘dissemination of extremist and terrorist ideology’.
“Detaining a leading defender of human rights and press freedom on the pretext of national security sends a chilling message to journalists, human rights activists and anyone else who dares to express dissent against the Somali government. Abdalle Ahmed Mumin has committed no crime and must be immediately and unconditionally released.
Abdalle Ahmed Mumin has committed no crime and must be immediately and unconditionally releasedMuleya Mwananyanda
“While the Somali authorities may have legitimate security concerns, the ban on disseminating ‘extremist ideology’ is overly broad, vague and leaves the door open to abuse by overzealous security and government officials. This highly restrictive directive is likely to lead to more arbitrary detentions and self-censorship by journalists fearful of reprisals. This is a clear attack on the right to freedom of expression that needs to be urgently reverted.”
On 8 October, Somalia’s Ministry of Information issued a directive prohibiting “dissemination of extremism ideology messages both from traditional media broadcasts and social media”.
On 10 October, the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and four other media advocacy groups in Somalia issued a statement and addressed a press conference expressing concerns about the directive’s impact on media freedom and the safety of journalists.
On 11 October, Abdalle shared on Twitter footage of what appeared to be an attempted raid by armed National Intelligence Security Agency (NISA) officers on SJS offices the previous evening. Later that afternoon, he was arrested at Aden Adde International Airport and prevented from travelling to Nairobi to visit his family. He was transferred to Godka Jilaow, a notorious detention facility run by NISA in Mogadishu, where he has been denied access to his family and lawyers.
On 12 October, the Ministry of Information issued a statement confirming that Abdalle was being held in police custody for security-related issues. On 13 October, he was brought before the Banadir regional court, where prosecutors from the Attorney General’s office, reportedly accused him of defying a directive from the Ministry of Information and for spreading a “secret” video but he has not been officially charged. The court has allowed for his detention until 16 October.