Somaliland: a court sentences a traditional leader to 5 years imprisonment

Today, 26th April 2018, Hargeisa regional court has sentenced Boqor Osman aw Muhumed Mohamed to five years in prison. A judge at Hargeisa Regional Court heard a criminal case against Boqor Osman without the presence of his lawyer. The judge, Ahmed Dalmar Ismail, pronounced the judgment on the same day.

Boqor Osman aw Muhumud (known as Buur madow) is a prominent traditional elder.

Human Rights Centre representative was present at the court hearing today.

Boqor Osman repeatedly asked the presiding judge that he wants to have a lawyer and time to prepare a defence. Today was the first day the charges were brought against him. The prosecution was heard and then the verdict was made by the court.

Boqor Osman aw Muhumud was arrested on 19th April 2018, but he was released on 20th April on a bail.

The elder was accused of “bringing the State into Contempt (article 219(2) of the Penal Code), and “circulation of false news (article 328),” according to the presiding judge. The judge also said he found Boqor Osman of “insult to a judge during a hearing (article 270)” because the elder said “the judge already has the judgment in his pocket,” according to the judge who spoke to the media.

The charges are related to a traditional event held in Armo, a town located in Puntland region of Somalia, where the elder attended a crowing of another traditional leader. There he made a statement which “weakens the existence of the sovereignty of Somaliland and denouncing the national army who are performing their constitutional duties,” the judge said.

 The traditional elder was denied the basic fair trial rights enshrined in the Constitution of Somaliland and the Criminal Procedure Code. He had a right to legal representation and defence according to articles 27 and 28 of the Constitution

 Additionally, he was not given time to defend himself. The whole trial happened while the defendant did not have a role. He was silent watching while the prosecution was heard and the decision was made. He asked to exercise his right to legal representation.  

According to article 28(2) of Somaliland Constitution, “every person shall have the right to defend himself in a court.”

The right to fair trial is guaranteed by the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights (“UDHR”) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”).

Human Rights Centre is very concerned about this development.

On 15th April and 16th April 2018, the same court has sentenced two other persons over statements they made or posted on social media. Mohamed Kayse Mohamoud has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for “offending the honour of the President.”

Naema Ahmed Ibrahim, a poet, was also sentenced to three years in prison over charges related to statements she allegedly made in Mogadishu. According to the charge sheet, these statements are “insult and defamation against the state.” The court said it “found her of Bringing the State into Contempt.

Mubarik Abdi,

Who spoke on behalf of Human Rights Centre


Human Rights Centre (HRC) is the only local human rights watchdog based in Somaliland. It is registered with the Somaliland government as a non-profit-making, non-governmental organization with its own legal personality.  

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