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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Somaliland- Detention and charges against human rights defender Mr Guleid Ahmed Jama

(Medeshi)- On 20 April 2015, human rights defender Mr Guleid Ahmed Jama appeared before Hargeisa
Regional Court and was remanded for 7 days pending further investigation. He was subsequently transferred to the Hargeisa Central Prison, where he remains detained.

Guleid Ahmed Jama is a lawyer and the founder of Human Rights Center (HRC) , an organisation which works to promote and protect human rights in Somaliland.
Guleid Ahmed Jama was arrested on 18 April 2015, at 9:00 am, whilst performing his daily activities as a lawyer at the Hargeisa Regional Court. The order of arrest was reportedly made by the president of  Hargeisa Regional Court, who claimed that he had insulted court judges. On 19 April 2015, he was transferred from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) where he was first detained following his arrest, to the Hargeisa Central Police Station.

The human rights defender faces criminal charges. He is accused of 'subversive or anti-national propaganda’, 'instigation to disobey the laws', 'intimidation of the public' and “publication or circulation of false, exaggerated and tendentious news capable of disturbing public order”. The Office of the Attorney General has accused Guleid Ahmed Jama of committing the above-cited crimes through his work at the Human Rights Centre, which they claim to be an un-registered organisation. The Human Rights Centre has been legally registered as an organisation since 2013.

Guleid Ahmed Jama's arrest comes after he provided an interview on the judicial system in Somaliland to the BBC Somali on 17 April 2015. The interview was related to six death penalty executions carried out on 13 April 2015 in Mandera, a town east of Hargeisa. During the interview, Guleid Ahmed Jama suggested the need for reform within the justice system in Somaliland and capacity building for the judges who handle such cases. In particular, the human rights defender criticised the decisions of judges to order the death penality when sentencing, without proper consideration of the facts of their cases.
Front Line Defenders is extremely concerned at the arrest and detention of Guleid Ahmed Jama, which it believes to be directly related to his human rights work.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Somaliland to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally release Guleid Ahmed Jama, as Front Line Defenders
believes that he is being held solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful work in the
defence of human rights;
2. Ensure that the treatment of Guleid Ahmed Jama, while in detention, is consistent with
international standards and that his physical and psychological security and integrity is
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Somaliland are able to
carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all
restrictions including judicial harassment.