Tuesday February 13, 2020
NAIROBI (HMC) – Oppression, intimidation and violent attacks on journalists have increased since President Mohamed Farmaajo took office in 2017, Amnesty International has said.
The campaign group said Thursday journalists have faced significant threats to their professions and lives in Somalia in the last two years from both the state and violent extremists groups.
“Somali journalists are under siege. From barely surviving explosive-wired cars, being shot, beaten up and arbitrarily arrested, journalists are working in horrifying conditions,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.
Muchena said the offenses orchestrated by the state came amid efforts by the current administration to seek favorable ratings locally and internationally.
He added the attacks against journalists have happened with impunity as authorities hardly investigate or prosecute those behind the attacks.
“The quest for a positive image has led the authorities in Somalia to embrace repressive tactics that fly in the face of international human rights standards. The authorities have an obligation to uphold the rights to freedom of expression, information, and media freedom,” said Deprose Muchena.
The report, We live in perpetual fear documents cases of arbitrary arrests, bodily harm, killings and suppression of journalists either through coercion or bribes by government.
It cites instances where journalists and media houses were paid bribes by the Office of the President to drop certain stories, give black out to negative stories and publish reports with favorable outlook in the eyes of the state.
The report also makes mention of harassment of journalists who have opted to use social media networks after losing their jobs due to pressure from the state.
Rampant censorship has forced many journalists to turn to social media to express their opinions, but authorities have set up dedicated teams to monitor and report critical content, the report says.
Eight journalists have been killed since President Farmaajo took office in February 2017, the report says, noting five died in indiscriminate Al-Shabaab attacks, two were killed by unidentified attackers, and one was shot dead by a federal police officer.
“President Farmajo must take immediate steps to ensure prompt, thorough, independent and effective investigations into myriad allegations of violations of human rights and media freedom. Those suspected to be responsible must be brought to justice in fair trials,” Amnesty appealed.