MOGADISHU, Somalia 13 February 2020 – Somali Journalists (SJS) welcomes Amnesty International report entitled ”We live in Perpetual Fear: Violations and Abuses of Freedom of Expression in Somalia” that documented violations and abuses against Freedom of Expression in Somalia in the past three years, which is the first ever report on the state of Press freedom of Somalia by an international organization since 2015 and the first report since President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo came to office in early 2017.
We call for authorities of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to respect the freedom of the speech and Freedom of Expression as enshrined in Articles 18 and 32 of the Federal Constitution as well as in Article 9 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). We also call for the country’s security agencies to be educated with human rights principles including the press freedom.
Speaking at the launch of the report in Nairobi, the Secretary General of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), Abdalle Ahmed Mumin commended Amnesty International for the report which was “timely”.
“The report specially highlights the grim and critical conditions under which Somali journalists operate along with recommendations to the Somali government and the international partners which support Somalia,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said “It is important our Somali government to act and protect the journalists as uphold to its national and international obligations.”
“One of the biggest challenges for the Somali journalists is the media law which has been passed by both houses. The media law not only imposes legal challenges but also completely threatens any space media freedom could have in a country with no history of press freedom. We call for the Ministry of Information to immediately open review process into this law,” Mr. Mumin adds.
Meanwhile, Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) noted claims made by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism on the aftermath of the Amnesty International report today 13 February about its legality. Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) is a legally registered journalists’ trade union with its headquarters in Mogadishu and holds all required documentations and our members are based across Somalia. In addition, the Freedom of Association, Freedom of Assembly and the Right to Labor Relations have been guaranteed under Articles 16, 20, and 24 of the Provisional Federal Constitution.
SJS leaders and more than 70 others interviewed in the Amnesty International report and whose cases were properly documented is beside the point, however, the point is the Somali government to address findings made by Amnesty International report which highlights gross violations against the freedom of the press ranging from impunity, online harassment, censorship through bribing and police brutality to restricting access to information and draconian media law.