Nairobi, May 18, 2018–Authorities in Puntland, a semi-autonomous region in Somalia, should immediately release journalist Ibrahim Obo Daud, also known as Suldan Godogodo, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Ibrahim was arrested on May 4 in Garowe, the administrative capital of Puntland, according to Media Association of Puntland (MAP) chairman Mohamed Dahir and Bashir Mohamed, Ibrahim’s Norway-based cousin.
Ibrahim, who runs Shacabka Media, a news website that covers Somalia but focuses on Puntland politics, is being held at Garowe Prison, where he was denied medical treatment for a preexisting condition, according to Mohamed Dahir. Ibrahim is a Norwegian citizen and was visiting his family in Puntland at the time of the arrest, Mohamed Dahir and Bashir Mohamed told CPJ. CPJ spoke to officials at the Norwegian embassy in Nairobi–which handles diplomatic relations with Somalia–and at the foreign ministry in Oslo, but neither was immediately able to confirm his citizenship.
Authorities have not charged the journalist or made clear the reason for the arrest. However, his arrest followed posts on Shacabka Media that were critical of the leadership of Puntland, Mohamed Dahir and Mohamed Bashir told CPJ. In the latest post on the website, Ibrahim criticized the composition of a government delegation to Brussels.
“Authorities should immediately state their case against Ibrahim Obo Daud or release him unconditionally,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal from New York. “Holding a journalist without charge for more than a week is not only an infringement of his rights but sends a chilling message to all of Puntland’s media.”
Mohamed Dahir told CPJ that Ibrahim was brought to court in Garowe on May 16, and during the court appearance authorities asked for more time to carry out an investigation, arguing that Article 47 of the Somali Criminal Procedure Code empowers the state to hold him for up to 60 days before going to trial. However, the judge stated that he would be willing to free Ibrahim during the investigation if a family member could provide a guarantee that he would appear when needed by authorities, Mohamed Dahir told CPJ.
Puntland’s state information minister, Abdifatah Nur Ashkir, said May 11 that he had no answers to CPJ’s questions about Ibrahim and asked for two days to gather information. On May 14, the minister said he could not make any statements while the case was under investigation, and he did not respond to CPJ’s phone call and a text message on May 17. Puntland’s deputy attorney general, Mohamed Hared Farah, did not respond to phone calls and a text message from CPJ.
This is not the first time that Puntland has held journalists without charge. In 2017, Omar Saeed Mohammed was detained for six days and Ahmed Ali Kilwe was detained for 12 days without charge, according to CPJ research.