On this World Press Freedom Day, The Human Rights Journalists (HRJ) wishes to congratulate all Somali journalists who have over the years defended democratic ideals through their commitment to unraveling and telling the truth. We acknowledge this is a critically important time to commend the contributions of journalists.
From violent extremists and criminal gangs who kidnap and kill journalists to dictatorial governments that persecute them, press freedom is constantly under attack. This year’s global theme is ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law’, brings to bear the need for media to cover issues of media and the transparency of the political process, the independence and media literacy of the judicial system, and the accountability of state institutions towards the public.
Press freedom in Somalia is confronted by increasing challenges coming from people in power. According to the RSF 2018 world press freedom index, the situation of journalists in Somalia has worsened since 2017. “Freedom of information in Somalia is undermined by corruption, political violence, the central government’s extreme weakness, and the fact that non-state entities control much of the country. Both the government and the rebel Islamist Al-Shabaab movement persecute journalists. Those who refuse to censor themselves are the targets of bombings or shootings by Al-Shabaab militants, or they are exposed to arbitrary detention and torture. The authorities often close down the media outlets of journalists who do not comply. At least four journalists were killed in connection with their work in 2017, and several others were injured in terrorist attacks.” RSF said.
Ranking Somalia 168 out of 180 countries, sheds light on the difficulties facing journalists and press freedom in Somalia. Killing journalists with impunity is rampant with over seventy journalists were killed in Somalia since 1992.
HRJ hopes Somali journalists will continue their efforts and optimistically expects press freedom will gain momentum.