MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Police in Somalia have arrested a journalist who wrote a story about a woman who said she was raped by government security forces, prompting an outcry from human and media rights groups.
Human Rights Watch is demanding the immediate release of Somali journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, a freelance journalist who was arrested by police on Thursday after interviewing the woman. She was also briefly arrested and questioned by police before being released.
“The Somali police are detaining a journalist and harassing a woman who says she was raped, while letting those accused of rape run free,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The new Somali government needs to ensure that the police are part of the solution to rampant abuses by the security forces, not part of the problem.”
Tom Rhodes of the Committee to Protect Journalists said it is not a crime to interview someone, whether the rape allegations are true or false.
“The Somali government must act quickly to rectify this situation and release him immediately and start looking for those who committed this alleged crime. Arresting the messenger is not the answer,” he said.
Rape is rampant in Mogadishu, where tens of thousands of people who fled last year’s famine live in poorly protected camps. Government troops are often blamed for such attacks. Prosecution for rape is uncommon in Somalia because of weak government institutions and a general reluctance by victims to report rape for societal reasons.
Repeated calls to the Somali police for comment on the journalist’s arrest were not answered.
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