MOGADISHU, Somalia 03 May, 2020 – On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day May 3 2020, we the undersigned Somalia media fraternity express our grave concern on the spate of threats, attacks and intimidation against journalists and media professionals in the past year.
The past twelve months has been a horrible for Somali journalists in the country with 81 targeted attacks, 53 arbitrary arrests, killing of two journalists, forcing 12 journalists to flee into exile due to death threats by multiple actors including government security forces and al-Shabaab, shuttering of seven media houses, more than 15 incidents of obstruction of access to information and the introduction of a draconian media bill – all representing violation against the vital constitutional right to access to information and media freedom.
This year alone, two media houses were banned, one journalist: Abdiwali Hassan Ali (Online) was killed, 19 journalists were arbitrarily arrested, four were physically harassed, over a dozen of journalists were denied access to information, and two key reporters were targeted with intimidation, a worrying trend that indicates how the Somali authorities have scaled up the crackdown on the independent media.
The Somali media fraternity is particularly appalled by the heavy-handed measures used by Somali government to gag media and journalists covering Covid-19 and to stifle the free flow of information. We believe the role of the journalists and media houses, as preserved in the Constitution, is to keep the public informed about key developments affecting their lives including the ongoing pandemic.
While, we call for Somalia Federal Government and the Federal Member States to immediately cease threats, intimidations, jailing and harassing journalists, we have, through our lawyer, officially submitted a protest letter, that documents key recent violations against the Somali media professionals and media houses, to the Offices of the President, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Farmaajo), Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire and the Minister of Information, Mohamed Abdi Hayir (Maareeye) for their consideration. Should the government fail to take swift and appropriate action to reverse the recent trend and end the violence against the journalists and the media; we are afraid that we won’t have any other option than to move to the Court to seek further redress.
1. Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS)
2. Somali Media Association (SOMA)
3. Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ)
4. Somali Independent Media Houses (SIMHA)
5. Somali Women Journalists Organization (SWJO)