The European Parliament has called for the withdrawal of charges against Goobjoog Media Group editor Abdiaziz Gurbiye adding to increasing pressure locally and internationally to end the charges which have been termed as based on outdated and oppressive law.
The Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights Maria Arena said the charges against Gurbiye and VOA’s Mukhtar Mohamed Atosh should be dropped forthwith.
“I expect the Somali authorities to follow the President’s announcement by dropping the criminal charges levelled against Mukhtar Mohamed Atosh of Voice of America (VOA) and Abdiasis Ahmed Gurbiye of Goobjoog Media Group, who were released on bail but are facing criminal charges,” a statement from the lawmaker read in part.
Arena said the pronouncement by President Mohamed Farmaajo to repeal the 1964 Penal Code which Gurbiye was charged with was a positive step in protecting the rights of journalists and allowing them to practice ‘without fear of reprisals or criminal persecution’.
Gurbiye was arrested in April and subsequently charged with publishing statements which ‘harmed the image of the President’. Local and international pressure groups have condemned the application of the law and called for the charges to be dropped.
In marking the World Press Freedom Day early this month, President Farmaajo pledged to repeal the law but there was no express direction on whether the charges against the journalist would be dropped. Gurbiye is currently on an indefinite bail.
The EU, Amnesty International among a number of local and international organisations have condemned the arrest.