Somaliland: Members of the Human Rights Centre judicially harassed
On 5 February 2017, the chairperson and founder of the Human Rights Centre, Guleid Ahmed
Jama, was interrogated by the Head of the Criminal Investigation Department in Hargeisa about a
petition that he started and an article about the petition in which he appeared. On the same day,
the spokesperson of the Human Rights Centre, Ahmed Hussein Abdi, was arrested and is in
detention at the Criminal Investigation Department compound in Hargeisa.
Guleid Ahmed Jama is a lawyer and both the chairperson and founder of the Human Rights
Center (HRC) and Ahmed Hussein Abdi is its spokesperson. The HRC is a human rights watchdog
organisation in Somaliland which works on five different fronts including lobbying, advocacy,
protection, monitoring, and documenting to promote respect of human rights in Somaliland. Having
published their annual report at the end of 2016, the HRC identified several trends that impact the
human rights situation, including the increased militarisation of the police force, and the use of
military courts to try civilians.
On 15 January 2017, the HRC launched a petition entitled, “Reform Somaliland Police and End
Police Impunity” on the website change.org. The petition calls on the President of Somaliland to
reform the structure of the police force, including by instituting an independent oversight body to
hold the police force accountable for its actions. The petition has gained over 200 signatures since
On 4 February 2017, an article about the petition that included a quotation from an interview with
Guleid Ahmed Jama was published in Sahan newspaper. After the article was published, Guleid
Ahmed Jama was informed by a trusted source that the police had unsuccessfully sought an arrest
warrant for him. On 5 February 2017, Guleid Ahmed Jama was called to the Hargeisa Regional
Court for questioning by the Head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). He was
questioned about the petition and the article, and the police told him they were seeking to press
charges against him.
Later that same day, after Guleid Ahmed Jama’s questioning, the spokesperson for the HRC,
Ahmed Hussein Abdi, released a statement about the situation. Ahmed Hussein Abdi was arrested
in the afternoon of 5 February 2017, and neither his family nor his colleagues were informed of his
arrest. He has been held at the CID compound in Hargeisa since his arrest, and has not been
allowed contact with his lawyers or family. According to Somaliland Criminal Procedure Code Book
One, Article 39, 1., “A person arrested without warrant shall be taken immediately, and in any case
not later than 48 hours from the time of his arrest, before the competent Court or before the Court
nearest to the place of arrest…”. The family was informed of Ahmed Hussein Abdi’s arrest
anonymously, through a phone call in the evening of 5 February 2017.
On 6 February 2017, Guleid Ahmed Jama went to the Hargeisa Regional Court to inquire into the
findings of the CID’s interrogation. He was informed that two charges were being brought against
him, however, he was not served with a charge sheet. He was told that the two charges being
brought against him were publication of false news and defamation in relation to the petition and
the article calling for police reform.