IFJ Challenges Somali Extremists and International Community over Independent Media

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global voice

of journalists, has expressed fresh concern over efforts on all sides in Somalia to wipe

out independent media. The intervention follows a serious deterioration of the

situation for private media outlets operating out of Somalia's

densely populated and war-torn capital city of Mogadishu.

According to the

National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), an IFJ affiliate, the Somali

Islamist insurgent group, Hisbul Islam, has imposed bans on radio stations instructing

them not to air music and songs and to refer to foreign fighters fighting the

country not as "foreigners", but as "Muhaajiriin". Some 14 radio stations in Mogadishu buckled under this pressure and

implemented the Hisbul Islam edict after a ten-day ultimatum.

"This latest action

coming after months and years of violent intimidation illustrates the wretched

state of press freedom in Somalia,"

said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Journalists are in the frontline of

the struggle for peace and democracy in Somalia and they must be


The IFJ says that the

latest censorship is in line with similar actions been imposed on media stations

in the southern Somalia

regions held by Al-Shabaab Islamic extremists group. Many journalists fled or

became Al-Shabaab hostages. This group took over Radio stations in Baidoa and


The IFJ says that media have

also suffered as Somali extremist groups have put pressure on some trading

companies not to place advertisements with particular media companies. Media

and independent journalism have taken a hit too as donor support has


"The threats and

bullying of journalists and the financial uncertainty surrounding private media

have created a dangerous and despairing environment," said White. "More must be

done to support media and to ensure the survival of independent journalism."

Radio Mogadishu, which is run and controlled by the

Transitional Federation Government of Somalia (TFG), was launched to counter

propaganda of Al-Shabaab.  Newly

established Radio Bar-Kulan, broadcasted in Nairobi

but transmitted in strong FM station in Mogadishu,

with the funding of the United Nations Support

Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) is widely believed by the local media to support

African Union Peace Keeping Troops in Mogadishu.

"The international

community must not reduce its commitment to fund and to support media nor

should it show hesitation in backing the private sector," said White. "These

are the vital outlets that reflect the independent voice of the Somali people.

If international support is withdrawn it will open the door to new pressure

from extremists and the enemies of press freedom." 

For more

information contact the IFJ at     +32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists

in 125 countries worldwide