Home Page > News Item > SOMALIA: Journalist’s conviction for investigating alleged rape upheld on appeal, sentence halved

Update #2 to RAN 06/13 11 March 2013

The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International welcomes the reduction on appeal of Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim’s prison sentence from one year to six months on 3 March 2013 for interviewing a woman allegedly raped by security forces. PEN also welcomes the acquittal of the alleged rape victim. However, it continues to call for Ibrahim’s conviction to be quashed and for his immediate and unconditional release.

On 3 March 2013, the Somali Court of Appeal reduced the prison sentence of Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, a freelance journalist who has reported for several local and international news outlets including Dalsan Radio, Badri Media Productions and the UK-based Daily Telegraph, from one year to six months. Ibrahim was convicted of insulting a government body, “spreading false news” and inducing false evidence, amongst other charges, in February 2013. The judge presiding over the appeal reportedly stated that Ibrahim had not respected the laws of the country and the ethics of journalism by failing to report his interview with the alleged rape victim to the authorities, which meant that his conviction for offending the state and spreading “false news” was upheld.

Sentenced on 5 February 2013, Ibrahim was immediately transferred to a central Mogadishu prison to serve his one-year jail term. The charges against him stem from his investigation of and interview with an alleged rape in December 2012 of an internally displaced woman by state security forces. The information Ibrahim gained from his 6 January 2013 interview has reportedly not been published by any media outlet. However, Somali authorities believe that he is responsible for two separate stories detailing allegations of rape made by women in Mogadishu camps published in early January by Universal TV – a local television station – and Al Jazeera’s website. Al Jazeera has publicly dismissed such claims, denying Ibrahim’s involvement with their organisation or either story.

Under Somali law, it is not illegal to conduct an interview nor is there a legal prerequisite for alerting the authorities after conducting interviews. According to reports, the judge presiding over Ibrahim’s appeal failed to specify the law under which the journalist had been found guilty. The judge reportedly only made reference to Ibrahim’s lack of respect for national laws and the Somali media law, a draft law that has not yet entered into force, and did not mention the fact that Ibrahim’s conviction was the result of his alleged involvement with the Al Jazeera report.

For further information please see previous RAN updates here.

    Useful links

• Human Rights Watch (04/03/2013) ‘Woman alleging rape acquitted, journalist’s sentence reduced in Somalia’: http://www.ifex.org/somalia/2013/03/04/woman_acquitted/
• Amnesty International (06/03/2013) ‘Somalia: Further Information: Journalist’s Jail Sentence Upheld’: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR52/004/2013/en/631ad1d0-eca6-4f7c-9afc-91a2e7572d97/afr520042013en.html

    Please send appeals:

• Welcoming the reduction on appeal of freelance journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim’s prison sentence from one year to six months and the release of the alleged rape victim whom Ibrahim interviewed;
• Calling on the Somali authorities to quash Ibrahim’s conviction and to release him immediately and unconditionally;
• Calling upon the Somali authorities to allow Ibrahim full access to lawyers, doctors and family members, until such time as he is released.

    Send your appeals to:

    Minister of Interior and National Security

H.E. Abdikaram Hussein Guled,
Ministry of Interior
Mogadishu, Somalia
Email: guuleed20@hotmail.com
Salutation: Dear Minister

    Minister of Justice

H.E. Abdullahi Abyan Nur
Ministry of Justice
Mogadishu, Somalia
Email: justicesom@hotmail.com
Salutation: Dear Minister

    State Minister of the Presidential Palace

H.E Farah Sheikh Abdulkader
Office of the President
Mogadishu, Somalia
Email: faaraxsheekh@yahoo.com
Salutation: Dear Minister

Please send also appeals to diplomatic representatives of Somalia in your country. Details of some Somali embassies around the world can be seen here:

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 11 May 2013***

For further details please contact Tamsin Mitchell at the Writers in Prison Committee London Office: International PEN, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER Tel: +44 (0) 207 405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 207 405 0339 email: tamsin.mitchell@pen-international.org