Journalists in Somalia joined the rest of the world yesterday to commemorate the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists with a call for more to be done to protect them from attacks, including speedy and expeditious investigation of cases.
The call was made at an event in Mogadishu, organised by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), with the support of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), to discuss how to enhance the safety of journalists in Somalia.
“There cannot be good governance and accountability if there is no free press, if its rights are not upheld, and access to public information is restricted. There is a constant need for information, thus it is worthwhile to work for the safety and security of Somali journalists, especially on this significant day,” said Somalia’s Chief Justice, Bashe Yusuf Ahmed while presiding at the event on Thursday.
Data from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) between January 2019 and June 2022, there were 759 individual attacks against journalists including five killings during 89 elections in 70 countries.
The Chief Justice who is also the President of the Supreme Court however noted that while press freedom is critical for good governance, the media also has an obligation of factual and accurate reporting.
More than 60 journalists from various media houses attended the the commemorative event themed: Demanding justice for Journalists- A stand against Impunity, in line with the AU’s Silencing the guns initiative, which is based on the political commitment of African Union member states to eradicate the underlying triggers of conflict.
On his part, the Secretary General of NUSOJ Omar Faruk Osman, decried the rising number of crimes committed against journalists, noting that 62 journalists had been killed and 67 others injured in the past 13 years in Somalia, and called for tough action to be taken.
“Today, as we mark the International Day to End Impunity Against Journalists, we call for swift and speedy investigations against the perpetrators of these crimes. Additionally, we demand that the shielding of perpetrators or persons behind the targeted killings of journalists should stop,” said Mr. Osman.
Additionally, Mr. Osman called for the effective implementation of the National Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists in Somalia, strengthening of the criminal justice system to address and persecute perpetrators of crimes against journalists, and international collaboration and support to combat impunity at federal and state levels, among others.
The Secretary-General noted that in addition to being deliberately targeted, journalists in Somalia were being threatened and intimidated, while others were being forced into exile, thereby stifling freedom of expression, crucial for good governance.
Ms. Idman Yahye Mohamed, a female journalist working in Mogadishu, the event offered a platform for journalists to speak about the challenges they face and explore ways of enhancing their safety.
“As a Somali journalist this is an important day for me and other journalists because we can seek ways of enhancing our safety given the threats that my colleagues and I face in our line of duty,” she said.
Mohamed Ahmed Rooraye, another journalist working in Mogadishu, was optimistic and said, “I hope that as we celebrate this day, we will be able to come up with concrete outcomes that will help enhance the safety and security of journalists in Somalia.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).