The IPI global network condemns the arbitrary detention of journalist Mohamed Ibrahim Osman Bulbul in Somalia and reiterates its call on the authorities to refrain from targeting journalists for carrying out their work.

On August 17, plain-clothed state security officials arrested and detained Bulbul while he was attending a university class, in Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia. Bulbul works with the privately owned television station, Kaab TV, as editor and is also the information and human rights secretary of the Somali Journalist Syndicate (SJS).

The arrest of Bulbul followed a report that he had published on August 16 on alleged misuse of funds by some senior Somali police officers as part of a project supported by the European Union Capacity Building Mission in Somalia (EUCAP Somalia). Bulbul has been denied access to his family and to legal counsel in violation of the Somali constitution. 

In addition to the arbitrary arrest, the state security forces confiscated Bulbul’s phone upon his arrest. SJS also highlighted that Bulbul’s family received calls from his number requesting for transfer of payments. Monitoring by SJS of Bulbul’s online activity seemed to indicate that he had been online on August 22. SJS alerted that his devices have been unlawfully accessed in violation of the journalist’s rights to privacy and protection of sources of information. Bulbul’s last appearance before the court was on August 29. 

“We are extremely concerned about our colleague Mohamed Ibrahim Bulbul’s situation. He has been held incommunicado since August 17. His lawyers and family were denied access. He will appear in court without even his lawyers’ assistance and his family’s support.’’ Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, SJS secretary general told IPI. “We strongly condemn the violations of the rights of our colleague including torture, arbitrary and incommunicado detention, and breach of his digital privacy.”

IPI condemns the arbitrary detention of Bulbul, including the breach of his privacy and the confidentiality of his sources as a journalist.

‘’The police have a duty to respect and promote fundamental rights including media freedom and freedom of expression. In that regard, this ongoing blatant disregard for Bulbul’s rights as a journalist must stop”, said IPI Africa Advocacy Lead Nompilo Simanje. “The authorities in Somalia should not persecute journalists for exposing and reporting on corruption. Critical journalism plays a pivotal role in fostering transparency, accountable governance, and democracy.”