Journalist Abdiaziz Abdinuur Ibrahim
A Somali court released alleged rape victim in controversial case but reporter will spend 6 months in jail.
A Somali appeals court dropped charges on Sunday against a woman sentenced to a year in jail after she told a reporter she was raped by security forces, but said the journalist will remain in jail for six months.
“The court orders the release of the woman, while the journalist will spend six months in jail for offending state institutions,” Judge Hassan Mohamed Ali said, cutting the reporter’s original sentence in half.
“The court has learned that the journalist misled the alleged rape victim into the interview,” the judge added.
According to reports, the judge stated that Ibrahim disrespected the national laws by not reporting his interview with the alleged rape victim. However, it is still unclear which laws Ibrahim has violated.
Last month the woman and journalist Abdiaziz Abdinuur Ibrahim, 25, were found guilty of offending state institutions and sentenced to a year in jail.
Ibrahim was detained on January 10 while researching sexual violence in Somalia, but did not air or print any report after interviewing the woman. The court found him guilty of “making a false interview, and entering the house of a woman whose husband was not present.”
The woman, who had originally been granted a delay of six months before having to start her jail term to allow her to breastfeed her infant child, walked free from the court in the capital Mogadishu after the ruling.
But Ibrahim was led away in handcuffs and put into a truck that took him back to the central prison, sparking angry reactions from rights groups and journalist colleagues.
International groups criticise the court ruling
Human Rights Watch called the ruling a major setback for press freedom in Somalia.
“The court acquitted a woman who should never have been charged while upholding an unjust conviction of a journalist,” said Daniel Bekele, HRW’s Africa director. “After this case, who in their right mind would suggest to a victim of government abuse that they report the crime? Or tell their story to a journalist?”
Mohamed Ibrahim, the Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) said, “It not is right to jail a journalist whose sources said in front of the court that she had been raped and should be freed immediately.”
“The media profession should be decriminalized and full respect be given to the journalists and it is not right to sentence a journalist for not publishing his interview.” Ibrahim added.
The initial case sparked widespread criticism, with United Nations chief, Ban Ki-moon, saying he was “deeply disappointed”.
Since then rights groups and Somalia’s journalist union have warned security forces have continued to crack down on the media.
Bekele criticised the continued jailing of Ibrahim.
“The court of appeals missed a chance to right a terrible wrong, both for the journalist and for press freedom in Somalia,” Bekele said in a statement.
“The government has argued that justice should run its course in this case, but each step has been justice denied.”
Last year, DCMF recorded the deaths of 18 media workers in the East African nation, making it the deadliest nation in the world for journalists outside Syria.
Source: DCMF and AFP
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