SJS urges Somalia court to dismiss the case against journalist Bulbul and grant his freedom following rejection of charges

The Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) calls for the Banadir Regional Court to secure the freedom of of SJS Secretary of Information and Human Rights, Mohamed Ibrahim Bulbul since the judge on Monday refused the charges brought by the Office of the Attorney General.

During his first court hearing on Monday, September 25, the Judge at the Banadir Regional Court accepted our lawyers’ preliminary objection, which asserts that journalism is not a criminal act and therefore all the charges brought by the Attorney General’s Office lacked validity. The Office of the Attorney General has leveled seven charges against Bulbul, citing Article 215 (Subversive or Anti-National Propaganda), Article 219 (Bringing the Nation or the State Into Contempt), Article 327 (Giving False Alarm to Authorities), Article 328 (Publication or Circulation of False, Exaggerated or Tendencious News Capable of Disturbing Public Order), Article 209 (Instigating Soldiers to Disobey the Law), Article 514 (Abusing the Credulity of the Public), and Article 71 (Punishment for Those Who Participate in an Offense/More than One Person Participating in an Offense).

These charges are founded on an outdated Somali Penal Code that contradicts the Somali Federal Provisional Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Attorney General’s Office presented email correspondence signed by a member of the European Union’s EUCAP staff, as well as two letters bearing the signatures of the Ministry of Information and Police Commander General Sulub Ahmed Firin in an attempt to implicate Bulbul. However, the judge has subsequently ordered the removal of charges based on the Penal Code, emphasizing that journalism is not a crime. The date for the second hearing is yet to be determined.

Bulbul, who is also a journalist covering for Kaab TV, was abducted from his university campus on August 17, 2023, a day after his news report exposed corruption allegations involving Somali police officers participating in a training seminar facilitated by the European Union Capacity Building Mission (EUCAP).

“Our colleague, Mohamed Ibrahim Bulbul, remains in unlawful detention, despite the court’s rejection of charges brought by the Attorney General. He continues to be held incommunicado. We implore the court judges to investigate Bulbul’s unlawful detention and the torture he has endured as a violation of human rights. Those responsible for these actions must be held accountable,” said SJS Secretary-General, Abdalle Ahmed Mumin.

“Since yesterday, there has been mounting pressure on the court judge, and threats against our lawyers have escalated. Police Commander General Sulub Ahmed Firin, Deputy Attorney General Yahye Mohamud Said, and Deputy Minister of Information Abdirahman Al-Adaala must cease their reprehensible actions against Bulbul and our legal team. They should be aware that their actions may constitute human rights violations and a denial of justice for Bulbul,” Mr. Mumin added.

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