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Somali poet Naema Ahmed Ibrahim released

SOMALI poet Naema Ahmed Ibrahim has been released from prison after receiving a pardon from Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi.

She was detained in January and sentenced to three years in prison on charges of “bringing the country into contempt” for writing poetry that advocated the reunification of Somalia and Somaliland.

Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991, but it is only recognised as an autonomous region by the international community.

There has been an escalating clampdown on critical voices, with the arrest and detention of activists and writers advocating unity with Somalia. At least 12 journalists are believed to have been arrested since December 2017.

Somaliland Human Rights Centre director Guleid Ahmed Jama welcomed the release, while expressing concerns over violations of freedom of expression enshrined in the constitution.

"I am glad that poet Naema Ahmed Ibrahim has been released on a presidential pardon. She should not have been arrested in the first place. Freedom of speech is protected by the constitution and international human rights law," he said.

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