The Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) has expressed significant concern regarding the escalating attacks on journalists in Somalia, highlighting this issue on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI).
The SJS underscored the worrisome increase in violence targeting independent media and journalists in the country, emphasizing the complete absence of investigations into these incidents. In the span of almost four years, from January 1, 2020, to October 30, 2023, eight notable journalists have been killed, and numerous others have sustained injuries, some due to bombings and suicide attacks.
The organization is calling for immediate action to create a safer environment for media professionals, citing the lack of proper investigations as a major cause for concern. The SJS documented incidents from January 1 to October 30, 2023, revealing that 28 journalists have faced detention, with charges filed across the nation, including in Somaliland. Additionally, six journalists have been summoned and threatened with criminal charges.
Radio Barawe, an essential station serving the minority community in the Lower Shabelle region, remains closed following an armed attack in August of this year. These incidents collectively underscore the declining state of press freedom in Somalia, necessitating urgent action from the government and regional authorities to protect journalists and ensure accountability for crimes committed against them.
Article 32 of Somalia’s Federal Constitution guarantees the right of access to information, while Article 18 protects the right to freedom of opinion and expression. These rights align with international standards, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and various treaties and conventions to which Somalia is a signatory.
On this IDEI, the SJS urges the Somali Federal Government and the Federal Member States to prioritize the safety of journalists and to address impunity urgently. This requires immediate, transparent, and comprehensive investigations, leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, SJS Secretary General, voiced the urgency of the situation, stating, “In four years, we’ve lost eight journalists, and sadly, the numbers continue to rise. The recent loss of Abdifatah Moalim Nur (Qeys) on October 16, and the August 12 attack on Radio Barawe highlight the severe dangers faced by journalists in Somalia. We demand accountability and call for justice for the victims of these attacks.”
The SJS also appeals to governments, civil society, and international partners to join in demanding protection for journalists. Mumin concluded, “Every government has a duty to protect these voices of truth and ensure that crimes against journalists are addressed. Let’s work together to eliminate the culture of impunity, creating a safer environment for journalists to perform their vital work.”