Mogadishu, Friday, December 1, 2023: The Somali Media Association (SOMA) has finalized a two-day Panel Discussion meeting for the stakeholders on freedom of expression, safety of journalists and access to information in Dhuusamareeb city, Galmudug State.
Forty participants consisting of journalists, media houses directors, CSOs members, police, judiciary, Ministry of Information, regional authorities and Galmudug Journalists Association (GALJA) were the key attendants in the panel discussion meeting.
The stakeholders’ meeting conducted in partnership with the International Media Support (IMS) has been held from 29th to 30th November 2023 in Dhuusamareeb city, Galmudug State discussing how to defend freedom of expression.
The stakeholders’ dialogue meeting was aiming for improving better understanding and reduce distrust in order to develop freedom of expression, safety of journalists and access to information. The meeting was also intending to establish effective professional relationships between the journalists, the police force and the judiciary to achieve a better environment for the safety of journalists, the media and freedom of expression for all the public.
At the start of the meeting, Farah Omar Nur, facilitating the event presented brief report focusing on the international and regional regulations on conventions on freedom of expression, safety of journalists and access to information. He also mentioned that the constitution of Somalia has specific provisions on freedom of speech and access to information
Mohamed Osman Makaraan, The Secretary General of SOMA pointed out the purpose of the meeting is to improve media rights for access of information and better cooperation between
the community, the administration and the police.
“If the standard information reaches the media and is shared with the people, the problems in the society can be easily prevented, the first priority is to find a working path between the Authorities, Journalists and the Media,” said Mr Makaraan.
Abdi Farah Hassan moderated the dialogue meeting proceedings, while the seating panelists during the first day session of the meeting were Abshir Abdi Sheegow , Minister of Information, Abdisamed Salad Adan , Deputy Chairman of Dhuusamareeb capital city administration , Mustaf Salad Warsame , Deputy Commander of Dhuusamareeb city Police Station and Mohamed Abdi representing the media were the seated panelists.
In addition, Elmi Ali Geney, Governor of Galgadud region , judge from the appeal court and Mohamed Osman Beeray , Secretary General of Galmudug Journalists Association (GALJA) were the key panelists for the second day of the dialogue meeting focusing on the safety of journalists and the information they have to work on.
The key questions raised and main points discussed during the two -day dialogue meeting were: –
- If there is freedom of expression in Galmudug Regional State.
- The safety status of the journalists and the media houses in the region
- The situation of access of information for the journalists in Galmudug State
The following were the key responses and point contributions raised during the 2- day dialogue meeting sessions: –
- There is freedom of expression in Galmudug State , however , there are circumstances that prevent it and the required level has not been reached.
- There is freedom of expression in Galmudug State for a person to express his opinion at any time.
- The people have the freedom to express their opinion.
- The media doesn’t have full freedom of expression.
- There are obstacles that happens from time to time, but the journalists have the opportunities to work.
- In fact, the journalists are being detained by a person of power such as a Minister from the authorities,
- That journalists could not be detained without a warrant letter.
- The journalists are wrongly detained and then released without being charged.
- The detention of the journalists is caused by the circumstances related to the prevailing transitional period the country is going through, which is now in the process of recovery.
- The journalists are experiencing lack of access to information when they seek news , and what they get is censored.
- The journalists are working under difficult circumstances, and sometimes the information is related with security, however, the Ministry of Information cooperate with the journalists in accessing the information on the meeting that takes place at the Parliament and the Presidency
- The authorities do not provide the required information, and they turn off their phones and provide confusing excuses. Many of them do not want to work with the media , and their understanding of government is low.
- The journalists are targeted and the media stations are closed without proper justification
- There is need for warrant letter and government order when arresting journalists or closing media station
- Galmudg Journalists Association(GALJA ) is in the process of discussing the issue of obtaining information with the Parliament and the Presidency, and the Ministries will cooperate so that journalists can get information they can transmit to the public.
In conclusion, the panel discussion meeting has been concluded with the following recommendations: –
- Similar dialogue meetings to be conducted for other journalists and security agencies at the other areas of Galmudug State where such panel discussion meeting opportunities was not received.
- Channel of communication between the journalists, the security agencies and the Ministry of Information should be strengthened for better connection and relationship.
- The security forces should avoid using excessive force restricting professional journalism, threatening the safety of the media and journalists and limiting freedom of expression and access of information.
SOMA in partnership with IMS/FOJO has conducted similar panel discussion meeting related with freedom of expression, safety of journalists and access to information on October 2023 in Beledweyne city , Hirshabelle State, Somalia .