Mogadishu, Monday, May 03, 2021, – In signifying the occasion of this year’s World Press Freedom Day May 3, 2021, the Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ) is delighted to mark the global event with preparing and producing Somalia Annual Press Freedom Report 2020 – 2021 entitled:-
The annual report is intended to provide an annual recap of information on the health and safety of Somali journalists, the status of press freedom in Somalia, threats to media rights and the practice of the profession of journalism.
Through a detailed data inventory and analysis, the report also seeks to highlight and document some of the egregious assault and violence against reporters in the line of duty, media workers and media outlets.
This report, which is the 19th annual press freedom report, produced by the Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ) since its foundation on 2002 as National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is focusing on the difficult situations the Somali journalists and the media has experienced during the reporting period from May 2020 to May 2021.
“The report is highlighting the violence situation the Somali journalists and the media has experienced in one year that are included murder, physical assault and online harassment, which amounting to silencing journalism in Somalia.” Abadir Abdulkadir Elmi, Chairperson of FESOJ said in launching the report.
The Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ) has issued the annual report at a time when Somalia is passing through critical political impasse resulting from disagreement over the need to lead the country to all-inclusive and consensus-based elections.
As result, the journalists covering the new political violence in the city faced a dramatic increase in the levels of targeting, physical attacks, arrests and destruction of equipment, bullying and intimidation.
The annual report indicates that FESOJ has recorded the murder of 2 journalists – as a resulted of targeted killing, 52 arrests, assault and injury to 9 reporters in the line of duty, as well as threats, intimidation and government influenced firing of at-least 71 journalists across the country.
In 2021, based on data collected by FESOJ, state authorities such as the police and the national intelligence service, more commonly known as NISA account for the majority of the violence, threats and arbitrary arrests against journalists.
FESOJ and the entire media fraternity are highly concerned about both the government and pro-opposition forces apparent lack of respect for media freedoms. Cases of journalists attacked, media outlets raided and equipment confiscated must be investigated and immediately addressed.
The report points out the impact of Covid-19 on the media and the journalists indicating that so far, at-least 21 journalists have contracted the virus – including TV broadcasters, radio journalists and other frontline media workers.
In addition, the economic effects of COVID-19 on media outlets have been more widespread. As businesses closed and advertising revenue has collapsed, most media owners have put in place layoffs and in other cases, employee’s salary was reduced to as high as more than half. Even so, the sustainability of the media is at huge risk, with many on the brink of collapse, the report explained.
In this report also, FESOJ highlights some of its work supporting independent journalism in Somalia including the launching and distribution of a printed booklet entitled “Journalist Know Your Rights, in March 2021, the booklet aims to improve Somali journalists’ awareness and understanding of their media labor rights and to inculcate the significance of labor unions.
FESOJ is also suggesting the media Owners to-
v Given the understandable financial burdens faced by journalists, editors and media owners should pursue strategies to retain journalists and avoid any unnecessary lay-offs.
v Media owners should coordinate with media rights supporters and government institutions to provide journalists covering high exposure environments with personal protective equipment’s.
In conclusion, Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ) calls upon the federal government and state authorities to:
v Take immediate measures to establish the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against the Media, hold security officers who had assaulted journalists responsible for their misconducts and bring to court, to face the law.
v Urgently pursue and investigate the murder of journalists and media workers and put in place measures to protect the safety of the media fraternity.
v Put in place measures to eliminate the widespread intimidation, harassment and threats against journalists by government officials.
In addition, The Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ) would like to express appreciation for the support of UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) in the implementation of the virtual training and symposium for building the capacity of Somali journalists to support community preparedness for COVAX vaccine rollout for protection from Covid-19 pandemic in Somalia through media advocacy campaigns.