Gambia: CPJ condemns Somaliland court for jailing journalist

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) -The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Wednesday condemned the conviction and sentencing of Somaliland journalist Mohamed Adan Dirir after one-day trial held without the journalist's lawyer.

In a statement made available to PANA, CPJ disclosed that a regional court in Hargeisa sentenced Mohamed on 8 October to 18 months in jail on charges of criminal defamation and publishing false news, and fined him one million Somaliland shillings.

The journalist, who is an editor for the online news portal Horseed News and owner of the news website Saylactoday, has been in custody since 16 September. He intends to appeal.  

According to CPJ, the court did not inform the journalist's lawyer or his family of the court date and they learned of the conviction only after Mohamed was sentenced.

"Mohamed Adan Dirir should never have been prosecuted in the first place and the manner in which this trial was carried out is unjust," remarked CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal in New York.

"Authorities should overturn the journalist's conviction on appeal and release Mohamed immediately."

Meanwhile, the charges are said to be linked to articles Mohamed allegedly wrote on sites including Gabile Media, in which he accused a group of private schools in Hargeisa of misconduct and corruption.

Mohamed's trial had been scheduled for 5 October, but the court postponed it because the judge had to attend a wedding, the statement noted.

The presiding judge in the case, Ahmed Dalmar Ismail, told CPJ that he informed Mohamed and the journalist's lawyer of the new court date.

Ahmed, who is president of the Hargeisa Regional Court, said that he permitted Mohamed to represent himself on 8 October, which is allowed under Somaliland law.

-0- PANA MLJ/AR 11Oct2017

11 october 2017 18:12:56

xhtml CSS