SOMA Marks The 2017 World Press Freedom Day

As the world marked ‘World Press Freedom Day’, in partnership with International Media Support (IMS) and Fojo Institute, Somali Media Association has organized and conducted a high level event marking the World Press Freedom Day’ on May 3, 2017.
Dignitaries from the Ministry of Information, Media houses owners, directors, journalists, civil society organizations, media associations, and Parliamentarians were invited to attend in the event.
The hall of the meeting war decorated with the theme of World Press Freedom Day 2017 ” Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s Role in Advancing Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies” and other slogans
The main purpose of the event was to raise journalists’ concern over the impunity for crimes against journalists in Somalia, and to make presentation on the issues of press freedom, killing with impunity and harassment of Somali journalists.
Speeches marking the World Press Freedom Day 2017, especially the need for all stakeholders such as the media organizations, Ministry of Information, the police and the security officials and other concerned institutions to cooperate in campaigns to preserve press freedom in Somalia.
The Chairman of Somali Media Association Mohamed Abdullahi Koshin said his welcoming remarks and thanked all participants of the event. He stated that Somali media had experienced difficult times and dozens of journalists have been killed and dozens others were wounded. He added that although the Somali government always promised to bring the perpetrators to book but to no avail. The Government has so far managed to take very few cases to court.
Addressing a gathering during celebrations at the Makka Al Mukarrama Hotel in Mogadishu, the Minister of Information of FGS, Abdirahman Omar Osman expressed that the Somali Government is committed to promoting Freedom of Expression that is enshrined by the article 18 of the Somali Constitution. The Information Minister also pledged that his ministry will make efforts to amend few articles in the Somalia media law seen offensive by the Somali Journalists.
Somalia’s Attorney General Dr. Ahmed Ali Dahir who attended the event has underlined that he’ll defend Press Freedom in Somalia. He went on and said, “I will not accept people arrested for expressing their views and I’ll not tolerate arbitrary arrest of journalists” He added that his office is open to people and journalists in particular to come and make their complaints is they feel intimidated.
The Somali parliamentarian Prof. Mohamed Omar Dalha also addressed and praised Somali journalists of being very courageous. He said, “Dozens of journalists were killed in Somalia. The aim of the killings was to intimidate and silence media people in Somalia but you said no, and showed the murderers that they cannot silence you. You really deserve credit!”
The one- day event celebrating the World Press Freedom Day 2017 was concluded with brief speeches made by Ismail Sheikh Khalifa, Secretary General of Somali Media Association (SOMA). SOMA SG thanked the dignitaries attending in this important event.
He put security forces and politicians on the spot for harassing journalists and appealed to the Federal Government of Somalia to promote press freedom, give journalists free access to information; and to guarantee the safety of Somali journalists.
M. Ismail Sheikh Khalifa also appreciated International Media Support (IMS) and FOJO for their incessant support to Somali media and Somali journalists.
He further asked the participants in the event to contribute in the efforts and campaigns demanding the government to prop up press freedom and to take tough measures to end impunity for crimes against Somali journalists.
Free media is an essential component of democracy and promotion of transparency and accountability however in Somalia; apparently the government is not doing enough towards protection of the journalists.
The UN General Assembly declared May 3 World Press Freedom Day with the aim of raising awareness on the importance of press freedom and remind governments of their duty to respect the right to freedom of expression.