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Somalia20 July 2007

Somaliland authorities free newspaper reporter after seven days

Reporters Without Borders hails the release yesterday of Abdirahman Mohammed Habane of Jamhuuriya, a daily based in Hargeisa, the capital of the breakaway state of Somaliland. He had been held since 12 July because of a controversial article about the swearing-in of a traditional leader.

He was freed after the Somaliland Journalists Association (SOLJA), Jamhuuriya’s management and local human rights activists went to see the traditional leader concerned.

18.07.2007 - Reporter held since 12 July by Somaliland authorities, no reason given

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the detention of Abdirahman Mohammed Habane of Jamhuuriya, a daily newspaper based in Hargeisa, the capital of the breakaway state of Somaliland. He has been held since 12 July.

“The hostility of the Somaliland authorities towards journalists must stop,” the press freedom organisation said. “Habane is the second journalist to be arrested in three weeks. None of the basic rights that should be accorded to any detainee has been respected. They have not even given a reason for his arrest. The status of this self-proclaimed independent state offers no excuse for failing to adhere to legal procedure.”

Criminal investigation police arrested Habane in the town of Borame, in the Awdal region, on 12 July. According to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), the Reporters Without Borders partner organisation in Somalia, he was arrested because of a controversial article on 5 July in which he referred to incidents that took place during the swearing-in of an elder as the local chief. The article caused a stir among those who had supported or opposed the choice of the elder.

The fact that Habane works for Jamhuuriya may have been a factor in the decision to arrest him. The newspaper has often been the target of harassment from the Somaliland government. Its editor, Hassan Said Yusuf, has been arrested 15 times in the past 10 years.

Held initially at the Borame police station, Habane has been transferred to a detention centre in Hargeisa.

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