A court in Somaliland has sentenced a female poet to three-years in jail after she called for unity with Somalia amid ongoing regional tensions, Garowe Online reported yesterday.
Naciima Abwaan Qorane was arrested in January at Igal International Airport upon her return from Somalia's capital Mogadishu where prosecutors claimed she had recited poetry calling for unity.
Qorane was charged by police in Somaliland with "anti-national activity and violating the sovereignty and succession of Somaliland". Somaliland's prosecution claimed that Qorane called Somaliland a "region" and "insulted and defamed" the government.
"We are very concerned about the conviction and sentence of Naima. Freedom of expression is enshrined and protected by the Constitution of Somaliland," Guled Ahmed Jama, the director of Human Rights Centre, said.
A breakaway, semi-desert territory on the coast of the Gulf of Aden, Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991.
In a recent struggle for power between the two states, Somalia rejected a $422 million tripartite port agreement between Ethiopia, Somaliland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) logistics port company DP World as "null and void".
Tensions escalated when the UAE went ahead with the port deal despite strong opposition. Somalia's members of parliament voted for a law to officially ban DP World last month.