The United States welcomes the Mogadishu appeals court’s March 3 decision to overturn the conviction of a 27-year-old alleged rape survivor but is profoundly disappointed by the same court’s decision to uphold the conviction of journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim who interviewed her. Despite reducing his sentence from one year to six months, this decision runs counter to the freedom of expression protections contained in Somalia’s provisional constitution. We agree with the Somali Prime Minister's statement that journalists should not be sent to prison for doing their job.
Sexual violence and restrictions on freedom of expression are grave problems in Somalia. The arrest of individuals for investigating and discussing rape has a stifling effect on the ability of Somalis to seek justice and of journalists to report freely. Somali institutions must demonstrate the will to protect human rights, including women’s rights and freedom of expression as part of their efforts to promote peace and democracy. As President Hassan Sheikh has said, “people must feel they have a Judiciary they can trust.”