The United States of America today has hailed the recent release of of a Somali journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim who was jailed for interviewing a woman who alleged she had been raped by security forces.
In her remarks in Washington DC, US Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland says the United States welcomes the Somali Supreme Court’s March 17 decision overturning the conviction of Somali journalist Abdiasis Abdinur Ibrahim for interviewing a woman who was alleged raped by Somali security forces.
The US is hopeful that this ruling, along with earlier statements of Somalia’s President and Prime Minister expressing concern over the original verdict, will help strengthen protection of freedom of expression in Somalia, as guaranteed by the provisional federal constitution.
Ms. Nuland notes the US government continues to support the Government of Somalia as it develops and strengthens transparent and accountable institutions to protect human rights, including women’s rights and freedom of expression, as part of its efforts to promote peace and democracy.
Somali journalist and a woman given one-year jail term
Reports say Mr. Ibrahim, 27 and his interviewee were jailed in February after being convicted of offending state institutions.
Both the woman and the journalist were originally given one-year jail terms.
Earlier this week, the Somali Supreme court announced that charges against Mr. Ibrahim had been dropped.
Violence against journalists prevalent in Somalia
Reports say violence against journalists and other media professionals in Somalia has escalated, making the country the most deadly state in Africa for journalists.
According to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUOSJ), between 2007 and 2010, 22 journalists were targeted and murdered specifically for their journalistic writing, 32 were wounded while in the field, 108 journalists were imprisoned, 200 journalists received death threats, and 250 journalists fled the country because of intimidation and threats.
In addition, direct violence and intimidation has been used against journalists and other media professionals.
US Takes Historic Step By Recognizing the Government of Somalia
With the recent creation of a functioning democratic government in 2012, the United States of America announced for the first time since 1991 that it was recogninzing the Government of Somalia.
The people of Somalia had already endured many years of violence and isolation, and they wanted to change that.
The US wanted to work together, not only with the people of Somalia but with governments across the region, the international community, and other likeminded friends.
In early 2009, the final Transitional Federal Government began its work.
Somali security forces, supported by the African Union Mission in Somalia, and troops from Uganda and Burundi and now Kenya and Djibouti began to drive al-Shabaab out of cities and towns.
Humanitarian aid finally began getting to the people in need in Somalia.
US provides aid to Somalia
The US provided more than $650 million in assistance to the African Union Mission in Somalia, more than 130 million to Somalia’s security forces.
In the past two years, the US has given nearly $360 million in emergency humanitarian assistance and more than $45 million in development-related assistance to help rebuild Somalia’s economy. And it has provided more than $200 million throughout the Horn of Africa for Somali refugee assistance.
Both countries have particular concerns about the dangers facing displaced people, especially women, who continue to be vulnerable to violence, rape, and exploitation.
The US respects the sovereignty of Somalia, and as two sovereign nations will continue to have an open, transparent dialogue about what more they can do to help the people of Somalia realize their own dreams.