Following weeks of legal battle in the Banadir Regional Court, Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and Somali Media Association (SOMA) on Thursday joined by Goobjoog Media Group’s Director in expressing concern over the deteriorating situation of the press freedom in Somalia and called for immediate steps to end the ongoing intimidations, censorship and threats including judicial harassment targeting independent journalists and media outlets.
It is extremely disconcerting that journalists are detained without charge, security forces are intimidating reporters and government officials are forcing key journalists to withdraw critical reports.
We are jointly alarmed by the fact that a growing number of journalists have fled or deciding to flee the country because their government is targeting them.
Goobjoog journalist Abdiaziz Ahmed Gurbiye has been released from jail on Thursday a day after the Banadir Regional Court sentenced him to six months in jail and a fine of five million Somali Shilling. Currently Radio Hiigsi editor, Mohamed Abduwahab Abuuja is in jail for more than 144 days without charge.
Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the secretary general of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said:
“Today we are facing the worst situation. The media cannot breathe. Who will be willing to operate in an environment in which unfavourable information is increasingly repressed with the threat of criminal charges.”
“Somalia’s nascent democracy will not flourish unless free speech is protected especially at this time when the country is faced with arduous challenges ahead of the general elections.”
Mohamed Abduwahab Abdullahi, the secretary general of Somali Media Association (SOMA) said:
“We jointly appeal to the members of the Federal Parliament to stand in preserving the right to information which is Constitutional rights and engage members of the public in standing up for the protection of free speech,” Mohamed Abduwahab Abdullahi, the secretary general of SOMA said “Members of the international community who have been generously supporting Somalia’s state-building efforts must also understand that Press freedom is vital to state building and ensuring a functioning democracy.”
Hassan Mohamed Mohamud, Director of Goobjoog Media Group said:
“We want to inform the public, the civil society and the Parliament about the significant threats to press freedom. We note with severe concern by the acts of threats and intimidation against journalists and independent media houses by the Attorney General of the Somali Federal Government. Arbitrary detentions and assaults on media persons by security forces have also increased at an alarming rate. Unless there is an immediate intervention, journalists and media houses will have difficult in serving the public with information.”