MOGADISHU, Somalia – Journalists’ freedom in Somalia may be far from achieved after all, even with the recent appointment of a special prosecutor, who will look into the atrocities suffered by journalists, and despite frequent assurances from President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo himself.
During a roundtable on the country’s upcoming elections on Saturday night, Farmajo fired warning shots at journalists accusing them of lacking journalism knowledge and experience, in a statement that secretly exposes the strained relations between the members of the fourth power and the agitated executive. .
In addition, Farmajo accused other journalists of being members of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group, which has been wreaking havoc in the country for more than a decade now. It was the first time the president openly attacked journalists in what could raise questions about his commitment to freedoms of expression and association.
“Some of these reporters lack knowledge and experience in covering serious issues affecting our nation. We even have some who work closely with Al-Shabaab, thus undermining our commitment for a better Somalia,” he said. he declared Saturday at Villa Somalia.
Just a few weeks ago, Farmajo also signed a controversial media law that allegedly undermined media freedom, which is a hot topic in Somalia. But the law also paved the way for the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into some of the crimes targeting the media in Somalia.
Michelle Bachelet, the patron of human rights at the UN, however, welcomed the creation of the prosecution which will now look into specific cases. She urged the five states to respect the rights of journalists in Somalia, a country that has fought for stability for the past three decades.
“I am encouraged by the decision taken last week to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the murders of journalists. It is essential that all states recognize and protect the right of their people to freely express their opinions,” he said. -she declared in a press release while calling for more solid reforms.
In a document released earlier this year dubbed “we live in perpetual fear”, the human rights body observed that Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries to work as a journalist. There are reports that a number of them have been kidnapped, subjected to arbitrary arrests, imprisoned without a fair hearing and, at worst, killed.
Al-Shabaab and the Somali federal government have been named the worst “threat” to the media. A number of journalists also sought asylum elsewhere after being followed or warned by authorities and Al-Shabaab, who continued to impose Sharia law across the country.
Earlier this year, the international community accused the Somali administration of assaulting journalists after the National Intelligence Security Agency NISA under Fahad Yasin linked VOA’s Harun Maruf to the terrorist group. But since then, the agency has yet to prove the case or summon the Washington-based reporter.