Mogadishu, Friday November 1, 2019: The Somalia media Association (SOMA) held an event observing the International Day to End Impunity Crimes against Journalists on Friday November 1, 2019 which was held at Hotel Afrik , Mogadishu, Somalia.
In partnership with IMS/FOJO, the Somali Media Association (SOMA) consisting of more than thirty member media houses operational across Somalia from Banadir region and all the five regional states of Puntland, Hirshabelle, Galmudug, South West and Jubbaland organized and conducted this year’s event on safety and protection of Journalists.
The Somali Media Association (SOMA) conducted a panel discussion Forum aiming to focus on the International day to end impunity for crimes against journalists to highlight awareness raising on the significance of the issue globally and particularly in the context of Somali media workers.
The key participants of the panel discussions Forum were members from media houses managers, journalist from media houses, Somali Women Journalists (SWJ), Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ), Somali Non State Organization (SONSA), civil society organizations, Somali National University, Hope University, Youth Organizations such as SOYDEN , Himilo Youth Organization, intellectuals, Somali Pen and Hamar Newspaper.
In his opening remarks, Mohamed Abduwahab, Secretary General of SOMA pointed out the significance for observing the International Day to end impunity against journalists and discuss the best way to protect the safety of the journalists. He indicated this year 2019, the Somali journalists has experienced limitation of the freedom of the press, detention, death, torture, and denial to access information from the offices of the government institutions.
“Two Journalists were killed in Somalia and dozens arrested this year in unclear circumstances and in most cases the perpetrator was not brought to justice.” Mohamed Abduwahab, the SOMA Secretary General said.
Mr. Abdulwahab mentioned that the 2019 impunity day was designated to advocate and lobby for detaining the offender when journalists are assassinated and prosecuted.
He added that in 2019, two journalists were murdered in one location, the journalists were Mohamed Sahal Omar (Ga’madere) reporter for the SBC TV in Kismayo city and Hodan Naleyeh, Somali – Canadian female journalist and the founder of Integration TV, both were killed in Asasay Hotel in Kismayo city, Jubbaland State.
A tribute for the killed journalists was made during the remembrance of the event. The remembered killed journalists were: Awil Dahir Salad, senior Universal TV journalist, Abdifatah Halane, former spokesperson of Banadir regional authority and Sahra Markezi, previous professional camerawoman and Shingani district commissioner.
He added that journalists working with Daljir Radio in Puntalnd, freelance journalists in South West Somalia, TV journalists in Hirshabelle state and in Banadir region have been arrested. He mentioned that Abdimalik Oldon, journalist in Somaliland has been arrested and prosecuted.
” As the world marks the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, Safety Mechanism for Somali Journalists ( SMSJ) and its members we wish to draw international attention to the increasing violent crimes against journalists and media workers in Somalia.” Mr. Abdiwahab said
“We call upon authorities to respect media freedom and allow Journalists to operate freely for information dissemination.” he added.
SSOMA particularly called for the release of freelance Journalist, Abdulkadir Barre Moallim, who was handed three months jail sentence in southwest state of Somalia for simply covering a press conference by local elders. In addition, SOMA is calling for the unconditional release of Journalist Abdimalik Oldon who has been sentenced to three and half years in Somaliland.
Furthermore, panel discussion attended by Sharif Moalim Mohamed from the CSO, Osman Muhudin Maoalim from Somali Non State Actors (SONSA) , Farah Onar Nur from Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ), Dahir Mohamed Ali from Somali Lawyers Association and Mohamed Omar Ga’al from Somali Lawyers Association has been held.
The panel discussion forum mainly focused on highlighting the significance of remembering the international impunity day and appealing to the Federal Government of Somalia to give priority to the safety of the journalists. The other themes included access to news sites for coverage, the need to bring those committing crimes against journalists to justice, pointing out that the Somali journalists are still working in a risky and dangerous situation, and are in need of support from various relevant government agencies.
As result, the panel discussions have made the following valuable recommendations:
• To end the limitations subjected to the independent media and torture of the journalist
• To follow up and investigate the killing of the journalists and bring the perpetrators to justice
• To adhere to the media laws to decrease the problems of the journalists
• To respect the reputation of the journalism , the ethics and culture of the journalism
• To minimize pressure on the journalists and allow more access of information for the journalist
• The ban of journalists to access the Parliament to be lifted
• To stop some of the government officials blaming the journalists and subsequently the police mistreat the journalists
• The female journalists to be provided with special respect and care from the government and security agencies
• To secure the safety of the journalists engaged in the emergency humanitarian and permit them access to the information about the vulnerable people.
Nevertheless, members of the Somali Mechanism for Safety of Journalists (SMSJ) held meeting with the officials from the police and other security agencies in bid to sensitize the significance of free media and establish close working relations in launching investigation into the cases related to violations of press freedom.
“The Somali Media Association under the framework of the Somali Mechanism for Safety of Journalists (SMSJ) held meeting with officials from the security agencies and agreed to closely cooperate in order to iron out misconceptions on both sides and work together on the betterment of press freedom.”
Safety Mechanism for Somali Journalists ( SMSJ) and its media advocacy partners are worried about the new move by the Federal Government of Somalia security agencies that led to the arrest of three journalists last week.
Cameramen and reporters from Kulmiye, Gobjoog and Kalsan TV were briefly arrested by the police while covering protests against road closure in Mogadishu last week.The Journalists claimed that they were tortured and threatened while forced into police vehicle.
The panel also echoed the significance of strengthening the efforts and cooperation of all the stakeholders in the media to end the impunity for crimes and attacks against Somali journalists.
With the support of IMS/FJO, the Somali Media Association – SOMA has been engaged to conducting five series of safety training workshops for the Somali journalists from the various sectors of the media houses across the country.
The training workshops was intended to improve the safety and protection of Somali journalists through raising their knowledge and awareness on the standard safety and protection procedures to follow and adopt for maintaining their personal safety and for the media.
The International Day to end impunity for crimes against journalists event remembered annually on 2 November has been designated by the United Nation on 2013 following UNESCO recommendation to assign a special day to end impunity for crimes against journalists.