The IPI global network reiterates its call on Somali authorities to immediately drop charges against Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the secretary general of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS). Mumin was arrested twice in October and faces multiple criminal charges in retaliation for his work in defense of press freedom and independent journalism in Somalia. Authorities must drop all charges and cease their harassment of Mumin and the SJS. 

Mumin was first arrested on October 11 at the Mogadishu airport while attempting to travel to Nairobi. His arrest came just after the SJS joined with other press freedom organizations to raise concerns about the government’s new anti-terrorism directive, which civil society says curtails press freedom. According to SJS, more than 40 online press outlets were removed as a result of this directive. 

He was later released on bail but was arrested again two days later while again attempting to travel to Nairobi for medical treatment. He was then again released amid deteriorating health. His release was granted under strict conditions, according to SJS, including demanding that he stop his media advocacy work and abandon future criticism of authorities, and that media organizations publish a statement in favour of the anti-terror directive.

Mumin will face his first court hearing on January 4, 2023. According to the charge sheet given to Mumin’s lawyers, which was seen by IPI, Mumin is facing three charges: bringing the nation or the state into contempt, instigation to disobey laws, and non-observance of orders of the authorities. 

‘’We call for the office of the Attorney General to drop these politically motivated charges”, SJS President Mohamed Ibrahim told IPI. “The Benadir regional court should dismiss the case against Abdalle, since he was persecuted for only doing his advocacy work.’’

IPI Director of Advocacy Amy Brouillette echoed that call.

“The charges against Abdalle Ahmed Mumin are a clear and unacceptable retaliation for his work as an advocate for press freedom. The government’s harassment of Mumin sends a clear message to civil society and to the media community that any criticism of the government’s anti-terrorism directive will be punished”, Brouillette said. “We call on authorities to immediately drop all charges against Mumin and to allow him to travel freely.”

She added: “Journalists and media freedom advocates have the right to do their work safely and freely, without fear of reprisal. This includes raising concerns about government policies that may adversely affect their fundamental human right to freedom of expression. Instead of harassing civil society organisations, the government should be working in cooperation with these groups to improve press freedom and ensure the safety of journalists in Somalia.”