On 21st May 2017, Hargeisa Regional Court sentenced Yonis Ahmed Yonis, the Sports and Youth Secretary of Waddani opposition party, to one year of imprisonment for “instigation to disobey the laws” because of a statement he made at a press conference on 11th April 2017, according to the presiding judge who pronounced the judgment in an open court at Hargeisa. The court acquitted Mohamed Sidiiq Dhamme, the Youth Wing Leader, who was co-accused. But the Office of the Attorney General appealed and blocked his release. Both are now in Hargeisa Central Prison.
On 11th April the police arrested Mohamed Sidiiq Dhame and Yonis Ahmed Yonis near the regional office of Waddani party in Hargeisa where they participated a press conference that denounced demolishment of perimeter fences of houses in one of the streets in the center of Hargeisa. The opposition blamed the local government of demolishing the fences to make a way for access to a hotel allegedly owned by the First Lady. The mayor of Hargeisa speaking to the media denied the allegations and said the demolitions were routine municipality work intended to give access to the fire brigade.
The two party officials were jointly accused of “instigation to disobey the laws.” Dhame was separately accused of circulation of false news by posting on his Facebook account a picture of a man dressed what looks like a military uniform and the ruling party emblem.
The court said the statement made by Yonis at the press conference was an instigation to disobey the law. The court cleared Dhame of all charges and stated that the Facebook post did not have false contents.
“Article 32 of the constitution of Somaliland guarantee freedom of expression while article 8 of the Political Parties and Associations Act (Law 14/2001) gives protection of free speech to the members of the political parties. We are very concerned of the arrests of politicians in a time a presidential election scheduled on November is approaching,” says Guleid Ahmed Jama, the chairperson of Human Rights Centre.
Human Rights Centre calls on the government of Somaliland to release the detained politicians.
Guleid Ahmed Jama
Chairperson of Human Rights Centre, Hargeisa Somaliland, website: http://www.hrcsomaliland.org/