04/22/2020

Urgent Action Update: Journalist Must Be Released (Somaliland: UA 90.19)


Journalist Abdimalik Oldon was arrested one year ago, on 17 April 2019, in Burao, northern Somaliland, for exercising his right to freedom of expression. Despite a country-wide release of prisoners to ease overcrowding in prisons and contain the spread of Covid-19, he continues to be arbitrarily detained by Somaliland authorities. He must be immediately and unconditionally released.

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  1. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
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Hassan Ahmed Aden
President Muse Bihi Abdi
Email: [email protected]
Representative Bashir Goth
Permanent Mission of Somaliland
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Mr. Goth

Dear President Bihi,

I am concerned to learn about the continued arbitrary detention of Abdimalik Oldon at Hargeisa Central Prison, despite the pardon of 574 prisoners across Somaliland on 1 April 2020 to ease overcrowding in prisons and contain the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

Abdimalik Oldon was arrested on 17 April 2019 outside his home in Burao for criticizing President Muse Bihi on Facebook and was charged with “spreading anti-national propaganda” and “disseminating false news” and sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Amnesty International believes that Abdimalik Oldon’s detention and subsequent prosecutions were unfair and politically motivated. One of his lawyers, Mubarik Abdi Ismail, quit his role as defense lawyer in September 2019 citing intimidation, threats and harassment by Somaliland authorities. On 26 June 2019, Amnesty International witnessed police officers at the Maroodi Jeex Court harassing and trying to block Mubarik Abdi Ismail from accessing the courtroom where he was due to represent Abdimalik Oldon.

The arrest of Abdimalik Oldon was arbitrary, as it was carried out without warrant, thereby violating Article 25(2) of the Somaliland Constitution, which states that the police must obtain a warrant from a judge before arresting and detaining individuals.

I urge you to immediately and unconditionally release Abdimalik Oldon as his arrest and subsequent arbitrary detention violate his right to freely express himself under international human rights law; and ensure that, pending his release, he has unhindered access to his families and lawyers and that he is protected from torture or ill-treatment. If contact visits are restricted due to Covid-19 preventive measures, they must be replaced with other means of contacting his family, by phone, video call or emails, for example.

Yours sincerely,

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