Somalia: On Human Rights Day, SJS calls on accountability for violations against freedom of expression

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MOGADISHU, Somalia 10 December 2022 – Marking the International Human Rights Day, the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) today calls on accountability for the human rights violations in Somalia, including the abuses committed against journalists and the media community.

Every year on 10 December, the world marks Human Rights Day, the very day when, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This year’s Human Rights Day theme is “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All”.

Sadly, the decline of media freedom and the rise in threats to the safety of journalists have become a worrying trend in Somalia. Two prominent journalists were killed while chasing a story since 30 September 2022, according to SJS documentation. Another 28 journalists and media professionals were arbitrarily detained across Somalia (including Somaliland) since 1 June 2022; while eight others were injured as a result of gunshots or from bomb attacks in Mogadishu and Hirshabelle. Nobody was held accountable for these attacks to date.

Additionally, the ministry of information is yet to review its directive of 8 October 2022 that unduly restrict the right to freedom of expression and access to information for the journalists covering the ongoing security operations against al-Shabaab. The problematic media law and the use of the out-dated penal code to detain and prosecute journalists still persist.

The ongoing threats and persecution against SJS Secretary-General, Abdalle Ahmed Mumin including the restrictions against his right to movement and right to freedom of expression by the ministry of information officials is another example of the blatant violations that Somali authorities are committing with total impunity.

SJS is callings for the Somali federal government and its member states to respect their own constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which both guarantee the right to freedom of expression as an essential human rights rights. Authorities must be reminded that silencing journalists by killing them, or harassing and detaining them is the most egregious form of censorship. The only way to end these violations is to allow accountability for the perpetrators.

As stated by the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, SJS reminds the international community to play its role to pressure and encourage accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations and ensure the full realisation of all human rights and to prevent the continuation of human rights violations in Somalia.

“On the International Human Rights Day, SJS urges Somali authorities in the federal and regional level to allow a safe environment for the journalists and the entire media community. A fearless, independent and diverse media is the one that can fulfil Somali society’s right to know and it must be protected,” SJS President Mohamed Ibrahim said. “Crimes against journalists will not end if the perpetrators— including senior government officials who attack and threaten journalists— are not held to account. We will not be afraid to demand this accountability.”

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