SMSJ: Impunity for attacks on Somali journalists must end
MOGADISHU, Somalia – The Somali Mechanism for the Safety of Journalists (SMSJ), a network coalition of seven journalists’ unions and media house associations, on Thursday is published its annual monitoring report covering the state of journalists’ safety and media freedom in Somalia.
The launch of the report was followed by two live panel discussions streamed on local television stations at the Jazeera Palace Hotel in Mogadishu and brought together leaders of independent media organizations, civil society representatives, media editors, religious scholars, women’s groups and government representatives.
The Reportwhich has been compiled from incident monitoring data from SMSJ members, provides an overview of the media freedom situation in Somalia in 2021 with a particular focus on cases of violations against journalists and media workers.
In 2021, attacks on journalists increased, with 105 incidents of media abuse recorded by the SMSJ, largely targeting working journalists. The figure represents a 62 percent increase from 2020 and the highest caseload recorded in a decade and includes: two cases of murder, 66 arrests, 14 media raids, 14 physical assaults, 13 cases of harassment and two mock trials.
SMSJ’s Secretary General, who is also the Secretary General of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, stated: “As we have seen again in 2021, brutal violence, arbitrary arrests, threats and harassment of journalists increased to alarming levels during the elections, at a time when the Somali public most needed accurate and timely information. To combat and reduce violence against journalists, SMSJ has and its members have taken proactive measures by documenting these media violations.”
Chairman of the SMSJ, Farah Omar Nur, who is also the Secretary General of the Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ), said the publication of the report will be a good starting point to dialogue with relevant stakeholders to end abuses against the media and journalists.
“We have government representatives with us today and we appeal to them to help us take responsibility for the attacks on journalists. We also urge that the Somali government can also help with the protection and safety of Somali journalists,” added SMSJ President, Farah .
The Chairman of the Non-State Actors Association (SONSA), Osman Tahlil, said the presentation of the annual SMSJ report shows the solidarity of the media community and the efforts to promote media freedom which is essential for state building in Somalia. He praised SMSJ’s work and its fight to protect journalists’ rights.
Abukar Albadri, Somalia Program Coordinator for International Media Support (IMS) and FOJO Media Institute, which has supported SMSJ, said that IMS-Fojo will continue to support efforts to ensure a safer and more conducive environment for journalists and media in Somalia and to address impunity.
Speaking at the launch of the report, the Director-General of the Federal Ministry of Information, Abdullahi Hayir Duale, commended the launch of the report and said the repeated harassment and attacks on journalists were deplorable.
“It is my pleasure as a representative of the Ministry of Information to attend the presentation of SMSJ’s annual report. We encourage you and welcome your report,” said Hayir.
The safety and protection of journalists are key priorities for the Somali Mechanism for the Safety of Journalists (SMSJ) which is generously supported by International Media Support (IMS) and the FOJO Media Institute.
SMSJ is grateful to IMS/FOJO: Media Institute for their tireless support as we also appreciate the role of Sweden, Denmark and the European Union for their solidarity and support to Somali media.
Signed by SMSJ member organisations:
Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ) Media Association of Puntland (MAP) Somali Women Journalists Organization (SWJO) Somali Media Association (SOMA) Somali Independent Media Houses Association (SIMHA) Media Women Network (MWN)