Somalia: New report highlights conditions with chilling effect on press freedom

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has published today its annual State of Media Report documenting on two killings, 95 attacks against media workers, as well as gender - based violence. The International Federation of journalists joins its affiliate in calling on authorities to do more to ensure journalists’ safety and end impunity for attacks against journalists and media workers.

NUSOJ report

The report describes how state and non-state actors wage concerted campaigns to repress journalists and violate their rights with impunity in Mogadishu, the five Federal Member States and Somaliland. It also highlights the specific difficulties facing women journalists on a daily basis.

The report documents two killings for which the terrorist group Al Shabaab claimed responsibility as well as 95 attacks against news media organisations and journalists including arrests, torture, threats of violence, gender-based violence, confiscation of equipment and travel bans. 

In another disturbing trend, women journalists reported 28 cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) during the year, with the highest number coming from the Banadir Region. “Women media professionals were also subjected to threats of rape and online harassment, often channelled through their social media accounts. It is thought that the reported cases of SGBV represent a small fraction of the true figure, since the fear of public censure deters women from speaking out or taking their complaints to the authorities,” NUSOJ report states.

The socio-economic status of journalists – most of whom work for little or no pay – also undermines professional, independent and credible journalism in Somalia. According to the report, “the precarious nature of journalists’ work makes them vulnerable to interference from political and business interests.” This kind of pressure leads to self-censorship and other negative consequences such as leaving the profession.

NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman said :  “In a country where journalists are killed and injured, where the right to access public information remains elusive, and where female journalists feel threatened both in and outside the newsroom, there is an urgent need for duty-bearers to end the ongoing atrocities and make journalism safe.”

IFJ Secretary General Anthony Bellanger said: “This year again our affiliate’s report highlights ongoing attacks on media workers and a clamp down on free speech. Somali people deserve a free press and our colleagues on the ground should work in safe working conditions. These two conditions are not met right now and we urge Somali authorities to do more to protect freedom of expression.”

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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