The socio-political climate in Somalia has been described as the most hazardous in Africa for media work. Besides endemic poverty, journalists face gruesome murders, arrests, physical assaults, and sexual and gender-based violence.
On August 17, 2023, Mohamed Bulbul, a journalist of Kaab TV and a member of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) was arrested while participating in a lecture at the Mogadishu University. According the SJS, the arresting security officers were dressed in plain clothes.
Mr. Bulbul has been denied access to legal representation and communication with his family after he was unlawfully detained in a cell at the Hamar Jajab criminal investigation department (CID). He has also been subjected to interrogation by police officers led by the head of the CID, Abdifatah Ali Hersi. He was questioned without his lawyer as stated by the SJS.
These actions by the CID violate the fundamental human rights of Bulbul.
According to the SJS, his arrest was orchestrated a day after he released an investigative report on Kaab TV exposing the misappropriation of European Union Capacity Building Mission (EUCAP) funds meant for junior officers of the Somali police who were attending a seminar organized by EUCAP.
The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) condemns the unjustified arrest of Bulbul and demands his immediate release with all charges against him dropped.
The AFEX Network also calls for the removal of the colonial-era penal code that allows for journalists to be detained and prosecuted. This same archaic penal code has constrained many journalists to elf-censor.
AFEX commends the SJS on its advocacy for the freedom of journalists in Somalia and fully supports its tireless efforts on the case of Bulbul.