Somali media groups express ‘grave concerns’ over press freedom

Media rights groups and unions in Somalia have warned of a grave situation in the country for journalists expressing concern ‘on the spate of threats, attacks, and intimidation against journalists and media professionals in the past year.’

In a joint statement to mark World Press Freedom Day, the groups which include the Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ), Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) among others said the working environment for journalists in Somalia had deteriorated rapidly in the last 12 months.

The groups noted there were 81 attacks against journalists in the said period, 53 arbitrary arrests and killing of two journalists while 12 others have been forced to leave the country due to death threats.

Noting that the offenses were committed by both government agencies and the militant group Al-Shabaab, the group added seven media houses were shut down in addition to 15 incidents of ‘obstruction of access to information and the introduction of a draconian media bill.’

Concerted  oppression

“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 joint statement read in part.

The media organisations noted they have ‘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.’

Failure by the government to act, the groups said, they will seek further legal redress. Other organisations which are party to the joint statement are: Somali Media Association (SOMA), Somali Independent Media Houses (SIMHA) and Somali Women Journalists Organisation (SWJO).

   
   

 

 

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