On Sunday March 17, Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, a journalist, was released from jail in Somalia. His crime? Interviewing a woman who accused five government officials of gang-raping her. Ibrahim has been in Somali jail since his arrest on January 10 of this year, as well as the woman who was also arrested for false accusations.
Somalia has been under scrutiny from international human rights organizations for their handling of sexual violence as well as lack of freedom of the press. These same organizations believe the detention of the two is politically motivated, and a government cover-up of sexual abuses and violence. The US State Department issued a statement saying, “This case gave the wrong message to perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence”.
Ibrahim thanks fellow journalists and media for his release. A Facebook page was created in support of his release entitled, “Somalia Should Free Detained Journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim” asking for fans of the page to send appeals for, “Welcoming the reduction on appeal of freelance journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim’s prison sentence from one year to six months and the release of the alleged rape victim whom Ibrahim interviewed; Urging the Somali authorities to quash Ibrahim’s conviction and to release him immediately and unconditionally; Calling upon the Somali authorities to allow Ibrahim full access to lawyers, doctors and family members, until such time as he is released” to the Somalian Minister of Interior and National Security, Minister of Justice and the State Minister of the Presidential Palace.
Stories such as these are heartbreaking but particularly difficult for Americans as they attack two principles we hold so dear, freedom of the press and security. As Somalia is in a state of repair, one can only hope these two values will be instituted there to further protect women, journalists and other citizens.
Journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim (pictured above)