Garowe, March 04: The Media Association of Puntland (MAP) is gravely disturbed by the ill-informed process and the gross violations (being) committed against its member Journalist Kilwe Farah starting from last December when he was detained, to March 03, 2021 when a local military court sentenced him a controvertible 3-months jail term.
Kilwe Farah, a freelance journalist, was unwilling and illegally detained by Puntland Intelligence & Security Agency in the evening of December 28, 2020 while traveling to his home. PISA then kept Kilwe incommunicado for 15-days and blocked his lawyer, Family and MAP from visiting him.
During the period Kilwe went on a hunger strike forcing authorities to allow him speak to his mother in a phone call in which mom begged him to eat. On January 11, kilwe was transferred to Garowe Central Prison with a military court order in which partly read that ‘’kilwe is accused of murder’’.
February 23, In a bid to seek justice for Kilwe and to express outrage on the recent constant actions against the Puntland journalists by the government, MAP chair, Mohamed Dahir, met with the Puntland head of state H.E. Saeed Abdullahi Deni. Both sides agreed that the legal process should be applied justly for Kilwe and that freedom of expression and media’s work shall be respect and protected by the authorities.
MAP was hopeful that as result of the high-level meeting, President Deni would intervene and justice would be served, however the tragedy continued.
On February 28, Kilwe appeared on court and a changed version of the case was presented by the prosecution substitution the murder allegation to supporting and disseminating provocative propaganda with no evidence whatsoever to back the claims. The court then gave 3-days period for the prosecution bring evidence proving the allegations.
March 02, Kilwe appeared to the first instance military court responsible for the Army forces of the Puntland regions of Nugal, Sool and Karkaar. To prove their case, the government attorney brought a video recording capturing torn image of President Saeed Abdulahi Deni as the evidence, but didn’t show Kilwe in any part of the clip.
Despite the fact that no evidence was found on the charges, the local military court in an unmatched move blindly went ahead sentencing Kilwe to a three-month jail term counting from December 28, the first day when the journalist was detained.
‘’At first, the Military court has no jurisdiction over a civilian, period. The combination of 15-days incommunicado detention, prolonged pre-trial detention, prosecution’s flip-flop on the charges from murder to disseminating provocative propaganda and the verdict contradicts the state constitution especially article 87,
The whole saga exposes the darkness in the Puntland judiciary and sends a chilling effect to local journalists who already work in a risky and stanch environment’’ said Mohamed Dahir – MAP chair.
MAP demands an immediate apology from the Puntland government as a whole and must pay the damages caused to Citizen Kilwe Farah. The State should also immediately halt silencing critical voices in and through the media.