Human Rights Centre (HRC) condemns the detention of opposition candidates and calls on the government of Somaliland to respect the Constitution, the Elections Act and the Code of Conduct for the Political Parties.
In its quarterly report covering from January to April 2021, HRC documented an unprecedented target of opposition candidates.
The House of Representatives and Local Councils’ elections are scheduled to take place on 31 May 2021.
Human Rights Centre recorded the detention of 7 opposition politicians who declared willingness to compete in the elections. Additionally, three more opposition candidates are wanted by the Police.
During the period this report covers, HRC has also documented the detention of 7 journalists.
The arrest of the opposition politicians contradicts the Constitution of Somaliland and the Elections Act, which both provide politicians with the right to participate in politics without fear of reprisal and to join the party of their choosing. Article 22(1) of Somaliland constitutions says, “every citizen shall have the right to participate in the political, economic social and cultural affairs.” Article of the Elections Act stipulates that candidates have immunity from arrest unless they are caught in the act of committing a crime.
- We recommend that the government of Somaliland stop the detention of opposition politicians and release all detained opposition candidates and members of the opposition parties. The government shall respect the Constitution and the electoral laws and regulations concerning the freedom of politicians to campaign without the interference of the Police. The Police shall refrain from interfering in politics and shall act neutrally and independently.
- We call on the government of Somaliland to respect freedom of media and freedom of expression. Criminalizing media issues should be stopped, and the Penal Code articles that punish journalists should be repealed.
- We call on the National Electoral Commission to play an active role in observing campaign rules and regulations to ensure human rights and freedoms are respected during the election period. Furthermore, the National Electoral Commission shall establish the monitoring committee agreed by the political parties to monitor the implementation of the Political Parties Code of Conduct.
- We call on all political parties to abide by campaign laws and avoid actions that may breach the laws.
Yasmin Omar Haji Mohamoud
Chairperson, Human Rights Centre Somaliland