The UN in Somalia has called for respect and protection of the rights of journalists in Somalia noting there was need for the media to conduct its work freely especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 and upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.
UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) head James Swan noted the media plays a crucial role and thus the need for protection and advancement of their rights.
“The media have a vital role to play in Somali society, from coverage of its political space to giving a voice to the vulnerable and marginalized,” said Swan. They need to be able to carry out their important work free from violence, harassment, detention, persecution, intimidation and censorship.”
Noting that it was important for journalists to report accurately on the elections and the COVID-19 pandemic, Swan called on authorities to refrain from intimidation and censorship of journalists.
This would be the case at any time, but especially in this period as Somalia prepares for its national ‘one person, one vote’ elections. This is an historic occasion that requires a dynamic, free and safe media sector able to report without fear or favour,” he added. “As the country responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for the media to provide accurate and timely news coverage is also crucial for helping raise awareness which can save lives.”
Swan’s remarks come amid increasing intimidation and detention of journalists in Somalia.
The UN chief made the remarks in commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day which is marked globally today.