The Fedaration of the Somali Journalists (FESOJ) upholds the legal decision by defending lawyers of journalist Abdiziz Ahmed Gurbiye, the editor of the Goobjoog Media Group who appeared in Benadir Regional court on Tuesday July 7, 2020 after the Attorney General’s office started press charges under Somalia’s archaic criminal law despite the recent declaration by president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s recent affirmations of reforms in provisions in the country’s penal code to ensure it is not used against journlists .
The opening speech of the trial by the ruling judge handling the journalist’s case Tuesday have met with protests by the defening lawyers of the journalist who challenged the judge’s attempts to proceed the trial under the controversial law insisting that the court had no legal jurisdioctions to proceed with the case under the outdated law hence filing for an objection .
The legal defense team of Abdiaziz Gurbiye also filed an application seeking the court to drop the case against the journalist altogether as the alleged articles to be evoked for the case violate the article 18 of the Somali constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and the media.
During the brief trial, the lawyers also contested that Abdiaziz Ahmed Gurbiye is a professional journalist who was carrying out his press duties and that his conviction could not totally be referred on criminal law under Somalia’s Penal Code.
The state prosecutor Yahye Mohamed Said who filed the charges against the journalist at the court also insisted the presiding judge that the journalist violated articles of 269 and 328 of the Somali Penal Code with charges of insult of judicial body and publication of ‘false’ news, therefore challenging the court it had full jurisdiction to proceed with the case and proscute journalist Abdiaziz Ahmed Gurbiye and demanded the trail to be finalized .
The judge has adjourned the case, saying that the magistrate court would advise about the way forward for the journalist’s case.
Fellow journalists, the Secretary General of FESOJ ,Goobjoog Director and members from the civil society organized were among the people allowed to hear the case of Abdiaziz Ahmed Gurbiye who is a member of FESOJ.
“We urge the court to dismiss these charges against Abdiaziz Ahmed Gurbiye because, from the legal viewpoint, the case is completely inadmissible,” Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu the Secretraty general of FESOJ told journalists at a press release after the the adjournment of the trial was announced.
“It is unfortunate that journalists are still being prosecuted under the draconian Somali Penal Code which is an outdated and contradicts the Provisional Somali Constitution — therefore, we call on the Attorney General’s office and the country’s authorities to abandon it and to decriminalize journalists under the Penal Code. We also the court to drop the baseless charges against the journalist. “ Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu added.
Defending lawyers of the journalists Dahir Mohamed Ali and Ahmed Abdirahman Diriye said they are committed to defend the journalist in front of the law until they ensure his freedom and that all allegations against journalists are unfounded and put forward an objection .
On April 14, Abdiaziz was summoned to his local police station and detained for four days after making two Facebook posts criticizing the Somali government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The journalist’s trail was criticized by international media organizations and human rights groups such as CPJ, RSF, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.