Somali Journalists Syndicate and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights demand immediate release of Somali journalist Busharo Ali Mohamed

Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFK Human Rights) condemn the arbitrary arrest and detention of Somali freelance journalist Busharo Ali Mohammed (widely known as Bushaaro Baanday) and call for her immediate and unconditional release by Somaliland authorities. Her ongoing detention is the latest in a series of unlawful and appalling actions against journalists by the Somaliland government.

Busharo is recognized for her critical coverage of Somaliland government authorities. She lives in the U.K., and was traveling to Hargeisa for a journalistic assignment when she was arrested. Ahead of her arrest, Busharo was among the nine journalists the Somaliland government prevented from accessing social media to cover the ongoing armed conflict in the disputed territory of Lasanod.

Busharo was arrested May 15, at the Somaliland-Ethiopia border, and allegedly tortured before being transported to Hargesia Central Prison where she remains in custody. Despite sustaining face and leg injuries during the arrest, she reportedly has been denied medical care while in custody. She is being held incommunicado with limited access to her lawyers who have confirmed that she is being held under cruel conditions.

During her first court appearance on May 17, Somaliland authorities claimed Busharo disseminated propaganda and jeopardized national security. She was held without charges until June 20, when the Somaliland Office of the Attorney General leveled groundless accusations against her, including the publication or dissemination of false information, anti-national activity, and the disclosure of classified information. Busharo has appeared in court seven times, each appearance resulting in the further extension of her arbitrary detention.

“We are deeply concerned about the ongoing detention of our colleague, Busharo Ali Mohamed, in Hargeisa. Her detention and the persistent legal harassment constitute a blatant violation of human rights and send a chilling message to the media community in Somaliland and we condemn it. We call for Somaliland authorities to drop the baseless charges and release her immediately and unconditionally so that she can reunite with her family,” said Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary-General of SJS.

“RFK Human Rights condemns Busharo’s judicial persecution in the strongest possible terms. Busharo’s unlawful detention is a reminder of Somaliland’s appalling record of violence against journalists and human rights defenders,” said Ikechukwu Uzoma, Africa Staff Attorney at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “Somaliland authorities must act quickly to free her and cease the disturbing pattern of silencing critical voices.”