The deputy minister of information, Abdirahman Yusuf (known as Al Adaala) and the state minister of the presidency Abshir Bukhari met with the two Banadir Regional Court judges in an attempt to pressure the court to either prolong the ongoing case or rule in favour of the ministry of information which initially brought the case.
Mr. Mumin, a leading human rights journalist and the head of SJS, was arbitrarily detained in Mogadishu on 11 October 2022, a day after intelligence officers raided his office. He is currently out on bail but is facing travel restrictions and his right to freedom of expression is limited.
Abdalle’s lawyer, a relative, and two colleagues told Human Rights Watch they were denied access to Abdalle during his initial detention at Godka Jillaow, one of the main detention facilities run by the intelligence agency.
According to the sources privy to the meeting, Abshir Bukhari and Abdirahman Adala have working hard to put pressure on the two court judges. However, after a long discussion, Abshir and Adala stated that they were concerned that the court might not side with the arguments brought by the office of the attorney general representing the ministry of information.
“They know and they stated that it’s is a political case and they are afraid that they will fail. That is why they were requesting the court to rule in favor of them,” the source added.
SJS Representative, Mohamed Bulbul who confirmed of hearing the secret meeting stated that “it only shows the level of embarrassment the Somali government under the leadership of president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is facing”.
“This government in Mogadishu has claimed to allow media freedom but their actions are contrary to their claims,” he added.
Media freedoms have been a major casualty of Somalia’s long-running armed conflict. During President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s previous administration, journalists faced intimidation and violence from both the government and the Islamist armed group Al-Shabab. In Mogadishu, security officials, including NISA, had banned reporting on statements by Al-Shabab, temporarily closed down at least three media outlets, and arbitrarily arrested journalists.
In Somalia, the courts are not independent from the influence of the government and the judges are selected through presidential appointment.
Practically, the Banadir Regional Court is the lower court giving the appeals court the jurisdiction to review cases after the lower court verdict.
The regional court is scheduled to hear the case on Wednesday 4 January.