- For defenders
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The self-declared independent Republic of Somaliland has been fairly stable in recent years, with relative peace and a functioning administration. With a delay of two years, Presidential elections were held in June 2010 and were followed by a peaceful handing over of power to the opposition, who won the elections. International observers regarded the electoral process as reasonably free and fair. In the same year, a National Human Rights Commission was established. It however lacks independence. Furthermore, the government restricted freedom of the press, and human rights defenders in the region faced acts of intimidation and harassment from State authorities as well as arbitrary arrests as a consequence of their work.
HRDs most at risk are those working in the media. The government has maintained tight control of the press despite strong Constitutional guarantees of its independence (according to article 32(3) of the Somaliland Constitution “Every act to subjugate them [press and other media] is prohibited”)1. Several journalists were arrested and sentenced to prison terms as a direct consequence of their work. Newspapers and radio stations have been closed down. A UK-based broadcaster was banned from reporting in the region shortly after it had aired interviews and debates related to separatist areas along the boarder of Somaliland.
In recent years the number of HRDs increased significantly in the region, which has partly contributed to a better protection and visibility.
Somaliland – Arbitrary arrest and detention of two journalists, human rights defenders Mr Ahmed Saleban Dhuhul and Mr Sayid Osman Mire