Human Rights Centre calls on the government of Somaliland to release 42 people arbitrarily detained without charges for showing Somalia’s flag on 26 June 2021.
They are detained in two different prisons, and they are not charged with a crime.
On 13 July 2021, Human Rights Centre visited Gabiley Prison to inquire about the wellbeing of the individuals detained from Borama for wearing the Somalia flag outfits. The purpose of the visit was to see the condition in which the detained persons were in and if any of their rights had been violated.
The Prison authorities refused Human Rights Centre’s representatives to meet the detainees in the Prison. Human Rights Centre interviewed prison guards and family members.
Thirty-five (35) women are detained in Gabiley Prison whom all were detained from Borama on 26 June 2021 for showing Somalia’s flag or wearing flag outfits. The detainees were apprehended without a court warrant. They are not charged with a crime, and they are not brought to court.
Additionally, seven (7) people are detained in Borama Prison for the same grounds with the same conditions.
According to article 25(2) of the Somaliland constitution, “No person shall be deprived of his/her liberty except in accordance with the law.” The law prohibits detention without a court warrant unless the person is caught in the act of committing a crime. The constitution further states that detained persons “have the right to be brought before a court within 48 (forty-eight) hours of her/his arrest,” according to article 27(2) of the constitution.
Family members told HRC that they are not allowed to meet the detainees in Gabiley Prison. Article 27(1) of the constitution states, “Any person who is deprived of his/her liberty has a right to meet as soon as possible his/her legal representative, relatives or any other persons he asks for.”
The authorities violate fundamental rights enshrined in Somaliland’s constitution and international human rights instruments. The 42 people are detained without trial for expressing opinion. Article 32(1) of the constitution stipulates that “every citizen shall have the freedom, in accordance with the law, to express his opinions orally, visually, artistically or in writing or in any other way.”
We call on the government of Somaliland to release the detainees immediately, stop arbitrary detentions and respect the freedom of expression enshrined in the constitution.
Yasmin Omar Haji Mohamoud
Chairperson, Human Rights Centre, Somaliland