Somali editor detained over COVID-19 criticism

Abdiaziz Ahmed Gurbiye

from SAAD MUSE in Mogadishu, Somalia
MOGADISHU, (CAJ News) CRITICISM of the government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-1) pandemic has landed a prominent Somali editor in jail.

Abdiaziz Ahmed Gurbiye, the chief editor and deputy director of the independent Goobjoog Media Group, has been arraigned for “insulting” a political, administrative or judicial body for allegedly publishing false news.

He has been detained for four days before he secured bail.

Gurbiye’s troubles followed two Facebook posts criticising the government’s response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

Upon his release on bail, he has been warned against pursuing any further critical commentary, including on COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 3 000 cases and 92 deaths have been reported in the East African country.

Gurbiye is expected to appear in court in the capital, Mogadishu, this week.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticised the arrest of the editor.

“His (Gurbiye) case should have never gone this far,” said Laetitia Bader, HRW regional director.

On World Press Freedom Day in May, Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo” publicly committed to reforming outdated provisions in the country’s criminal code.

Bader said authorities must immediately drop the charges against Gurbiye and ensure critical commentary was a welcome element of a democratic society.

“As Somalia prepares for an electoral process, the government should demonstrate that independent journalism is more important than ever,” she said.

Popular elections are to be held this year for the first time since 1969.

– CAJ News

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