Mogadishu (Diplomat.so) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) welcomes the release of independent journalist Kilwe Adan Farah, who was today pardoned by Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni.
Kilwe Adan Farah had on, 17 March 2021, been sentenced to three years in jail by the Military High Court of Puntland, following a sham trial on charges brought against him under Somalia’s outdated penal code without the presence of lawyers, family members and colleagues. The conviction attracted widespread national and international condemnations.
While Kilwe’s release is a welcome development, NUSOJ wishes to note that this sad episode was unnecessary, avoidable and should not have happened in the first place, if the authorities in Garowe had respected Kilwe’s inalienable rights as a journalist. It was also an aberration of justice that a civilian charged with an offence should have faced trial in an improvised military tribunal.
"We welcome the release of journalist Kilwe Adan Farah, but he should not have spent a single day in jail because of journalistic work. The decision of Puntland President to pardon Kilwe reverses this glaring miscarriage of justice that had seen our colleague sentenced to an underserved 3 years in jail,” said NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman.
"We hope that this is a lesson for all involved and will lead to genuine respect for media freedom that will particularly ensure journalists are able to go about their duties without the threat of arbitrary arrests. Journalists have a right to go about their duties without illegal interference from any quarters just as citizens have a right to credible information generated by journalists,” Osman added.
NUSOJ wishes to put it on record that Kilwe should not have been arrested in the first place, let alone convicted of any crime, and the union insists on his innocence and that fact should not be lost in the Presidential pardon.
It is also worth noting that Puntland has earned the unenviable reputation of being the only Federal Member State or regional administration where journalists are tried under military courts for carrying out their journalistic work.
NUSOJ calls upon Puntland President to initiate a national dialogue on the rights and security of journalists, end judicial harassment and rededicate his government’s energy to ensuring that citizens, including journalists, enjoy their civil liberties as set out in the State and Federal constitutions.