Somalia: Press rights advocate under pressure to quit media advocacy in exchange for freedom

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MOGADISHU, Somalia - The government of Somalia is ridiculously pushing a senior journalist out of media advocacy in exchange for freedom, it has emerged, in what could plunge the administration of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud into possible political and social chaos in the coming months.

Abdalla Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somalia Journalists Syndicate [SJS] was arrested before being released on bail over what the minister of information had earlier alleged: "has nothing to do with his profession". Several rights groups pushed for his release following the NISA-engineered detention.

On Wednesday, the ministry of information outlined two conditions for his release from jail, but the demands were outrightly rejected by SJS and the Somalia Media Association [SOMA]. Currently, he's out on bail but with an active case in which the government wants him to exchange freedom by adhering to certain conditions.

According to SJS, a meeting held on Tuesday between the media advocacy teams and the government saw Mogadishu come up with two stringent conditions which upon fulfilment, would see the state drop charges the senior media pundit is facing.

For Abdalla to be free, the government said, he "should quit his media advocacy work and that he abandons future criticism of the authorities" besides the media associations "publishing an apology statement in favour of the position of the Ministry of Information and change the position of the media advocates towards the government directive of 8 October".

Already, the media advocacy teams have rejected the offer terming it " unacceptable and unlawful". The groups now want the Banadir Court to stop "threats" and "unconditionally drop the baseless and politically-motivated charges" against Mr Mumin including the reportedly new charges added last week.

"We express our concern about the ongoing pressure on the court judges by the Ministry of Information officials which could result in a travesty of justice," read the statement by the three media advocacy organizations which are based in Mogadishu.

"We call for the top leadership of the Somali Federal Government to ensure that government officials including those at the Ministry of Information cease the harassment and persecution of Abdalla Mumin and we also call on them to respect and protect the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press."

Ironically, a month ago, the ministry of information was categorical that Abdalla Ahmed Mumin “has no charges related to his work as a journalist,” and that he was being held for “security-related charges.” The arbitrary arrests and detentions come a few days after Amnesty International accused President Hassan Sheikh of failing to tame violations of human rights.

The statement by Amnesty International outlined some of the key working plan areas that Hassan Sheikh and his administration should focus on to get Somalia out of its bad human rights record, which has persisted even after his victory in May. Hassan Sheikh had pledged to respect human rights during his campaigns.

GAROWE ONLINE

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