Justice Abroad’s Michael Polak, who is instructed by the family of the journalist Kilwe Farah and is acting with the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) has today submitted a complaint to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the "ACHPR”). The complaint concernsthe breach of journalistic rights, as Kilwe Farah has has been unlawfully detained and subjected to criminal proceedings simply because of his journalistic activities.
The ACHPR aims to promote human and people’s rights and to ensure their protection in Africa. The protective mandate of the ACHPR requires the Commission to take measures to ensure that the citizens enjoy the rights contained in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the "Charter”). These measures include accepting communications from individuals or groups alleging that African states have acted in breach of the Charter.
The complaint on behalf of Kilwe alleges that the following breaches of the Charter have occurred:
Article 3 – Equality before the law.
Article 6 – The right to personal liberty and security of the person.
Article 7 – The right to a fair trial.
Article 9 – The right to receive information and freedom of expression.
This complaint flows from the events which have befallen Kilwe since December 2020. A day after Kilwe reported on anti-inflation rate protests in Garowe on 27 January 2020 Kilwe was unlawfully detained from a hotel in Garowe town centre. He was then held at an undisclosed PISA (security services) detention centre without access to a lawyer or his family for 16 days where he was subjected to torture. On 11 January 2021, after 16 days held incommunicado in unlawful detention Kilwe was transferred to Garowe Central Prison where he was charged with attempted murder despite the authorities never having identified anyone who he was supposed to have attempted to murder.
These charges have since changed. During the court hearing on Saturday 27 February 2021, before the first instance Military Court the military prosecutor put forward five charges: Instigation of Delinquency; Instigation to Disobey Laws; Publication or Circulation of False, Exaggerated, or Tendentious News Capable of Disturbing Public Order; Offence against the Authorities by means of Damaging Posters; and Bringing the Nation or the State into Contempt. The prosecutor asked the Military Court to sentence Kilwe to 10 years imprisonment however the Court ordered the prosecution to produce evidence of these offences.
Justice Abroad’s, Michael Polak, who submitted the communication to the African Commission, stated that:
‘journalists should not be unlawfully detained, mistreated, and then subject to spurious changing charges simply for doing their job as journalists. This is contrary to the African Charter and all other international provisions which protect the rights of journalists to impart information and for the public to receive it. The international community and the African Union must not allow Kilwe to languish in prison for no proper reason whilst his family worry about his wellbeing.‘
Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) Secretary General, Abdalle Ahmed Mumin said,
"Puntland authorities should stop judicial harassment against media professionals and release Kilwe unconditionally. Kilwe’s trial before a military court closes the narrow window of media freedoms in Puntland. The military court has no jurisdiction over a civilian. It isunlawful and if not stopped it will be a new tactic to oppress the press in general. This has to stop before it is too late. Somali journalists have been risking their lives in order to inform the public and we cannot sit and watch the messengers be silenced and muzzled by military courts. We demand that Puntland authorities stop intimidating and harassing journalists in that region. ”
Notes to Editors:
Justice Abroad, www.justiceabroad.co.uk has been set up to help those trying to find their way through foreign justice systems with all the associated hurdles that presents, to represent those facing gross breaches of their human rights no matter where this takes place, and to advise and assist the victims of crimes as to how to achieve justice. Justice Abroad, run by international law barrister Michael Polak, has assembled a team of top investigators, lawyers, and support staff to provide unparalleled support, advice and guidance, legal, advocacy, and investigatory service for your Justice Abroad issues anywhere in the world. The Justice Abroad team with their trusted international pool of multilingual experts, their networks, and media contacts and their well-documented determination to leave no stone unturned in the search for the truth and justice for individuals and families who have been denied it are here to provide that much needed support for families and individuals in their time.