Somaliland Frees Girl Jailed for Espionage
Zamzam Ahmed Dualeh was released into the custody of Ghanim Alnajjar, the UN-appointed independent expert on the human rights situation in Somalia, who was visiting Somaliland's capital, Hargeysa. She accompanied Alnajjar back to her home region of Puntland.
The teenager was arrested on 15 August 2004 and later sentenced to five years' imprisonment by the regional court of Hargeysa - four years for alleged espionage and one year for purportedly lying about her name, identity and clan.
She was suspected of trying to obtain secret information about the vice-president's house on her visit to Hargeisa from Puntland. She denied the charges.
There were allegations that Zamzam was mistreated by police officers during her detention.
Amnesty International, in late November, said Zamzam's trial had not met international fairness standards and that she should have been treated as a child. It also demanded that her claims that she was raped and beaten while in custody be investigated.
Upon the request of the Independent Expert, the Somaliland government agreed to investigate these allegations.
Alnajjar is on his fourth annual fact-finding visit to the region since being appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in June 2001. His mandate is to assess the human rights situation in Somalia and report his findings to the UN's Commission on Human Rights.
He held talks with top Somaliland officials and met leading members of the opposition, representatives of local and international NGOs and agencies, and the media.
Issues discussed during meetings included women's and children's rights, prison conditions, Somaliland's election timetable, ongoing efforts to establish an independent human rights commission and a controversial Public Order Law.