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Criminal Actions Against The Press Are Unacceptable

ISSUE 244
Front Page
Index
Headlines

President Rayale Said To Be Behind A Criminal Action Brought Against Haatuf Newspaper

Islamic militia seizes control of Somalia seaport

Abdillahi Yusuf Can't Rule Somalia

Foreign Aid

Financing Somalia's Islamist Warlords

Red Cross Suspends Activities Over Ethiopia Kidnap

7 Somalia President’s Guards Flown To Nairobi

Regional Affairs

Migrants Beaten To Death On Ships To Yemen - U.N.

Somali Militants 'Will Open Holy War Camps'

Islamists Ban Trade Of Khat During Ramadan

Editorial
Special Report

International News

U.S. Has Direct Contacts With Somali Islamists

Pope Sorry His Speech Offended Muslimsr

Somali Refugees Fear New Deadly Violence In Cape Town

Bristol: OFFICERS AT AIRPORT ARE TARGETING US, SAY SOMALIS

Al-Jazeera Int'l Vows 'Unparalleled' News From Africa

Who Says Immigrants Make No Contribution?

The Next Phase of the Middle East War

Somalia Denies CIA Presence In Bombing Probe

Somalia Denies CIA Presence In Bombing Probe

FEATURES & COMMENTARY

Somaliland: Time for Corrections & Police Services rather than Forces

Oil Is The Basis Of The Crisis In Darfur

In Somalia, A Boot Camp For Islam

Business And Islam: Allies Against Anarchy In Somalia

''Somalia Drifts Toward Fragmentation As Regional Powers Polarize''

Investors Bet On Rising Costs For Scarce Water

Food for thought

Opinions

Why No Action In Darfur? Race

A Note Of Congratulation To SOPRI For A Successful Somaliland Convention 2006

Our cream

The Equation Of Mr. Arab Moi Will Not Be Compatible With Somaliland’s Inspirations

It Is No Easy Task Solving The Somalia Question

Somalia: International Religious Freedom Report 2006

The Theory of Backwardness and Somalia/Somaliland Political Stage


EDITORIAL

Abdillahi Dhere who works as secretary for the Somaliland House of Elders (Guurti) has given himself the liberty of asking the country’s Attorney General to initiate a criminal investigation of our sister newspaper Haatuf for publishing on September 18, 2006 an article exposing the alleged involvement of the former in a covert campaign to mobilize support for unseating the current chairman of the upper house Suleiman Mahmud Adan.

In a letter he wrote on September 20, 2006 to Attorney General Hussein A. Ghalib, Abdillahi Dhere accused the Somaliland press as a whole of getting into the habit of not attributing the sources of their news information. For reasons known only to him, he copied the letter to the president.

Mr. Ghalib obliged by ordering the Criminal Investigation Department to conduct a formal investigation into the matter and bring prosecution against the person found to be the offender (writer of the article).

But what is of concern here is not that Haatuf will be taken to court or whether there is actually a clear case against the newspaper. What is extremely worrying is the fact that the Attorney General treated what would have essentially been a libel case as a criminal one.

This decision by the government’s top legal expert comes into conflict with the provisions of the press law which have already decriminalized libel case such as defamation.

Before the promulgation of the Somaliland press law in January 2004, the Somaliland government used criminal actions in libel cases involving the press on the basis of the Penal Code (a law originally drawn up by fascist Italian lawyers). Despite the introduction of the new press law that bans criminalization of libel offences committed by the media, the Somaliland government however still seems oblivious to its obligations under the law.

As a legislation passed by both chambers of the parliament and signed into law by the president, the press law prescribes that libel cases should be dealt with in accordance with the civil law. It means that a government official or private citizen, who wants to bring charges against the press for libel, has to file for a civil lawsuit in the competent court of law.

The press is not above the law. Neither the government is. Haatuf is therefore not obliged to appear before the CID. We are not going to be intimidated by immoral thugs like Abdillahi Dhere who mistakenly think that by using their presidential connections they can silence this country’s free press.

But we must tell President Dahir Rayale that the Somaliland independent media, despite its shortcomings, is one of the best things that have happened in this country since a very long time. Haatuf has particularly been playing a role that extended well beyond the traditional sphere of acting as a watch dog, to the promotion of Somaliland internally and externally.

It is a shame that your government still practices the culture of secrecy while your officials tend to be reluctant to offer information where requested. You therefore can not blame the media for your deficiencies.

Source: Somaliland Times


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