MOGADISHU, Somalia – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) has on Monday concluded a three-day training which is part of a new series of trainings on media freedom and safety of journalists held in Mogadishu from 14th – 16th August.
Supported by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), this training aims to improve the safety of professional local journalists and strengthen freedom of expression with reference to current trends in electoral processes in Somalia. Under this initiative, SJS intends to train around 80 journalists —half of them female — in four regions of the country.
Participants in this three-day training, many of them recently targeted by state security forces, were selected from various media stations in Mogadishu, Galgadud and Lower Shabelle.
During the three-day sessions, among the main topics discussed were the right to Freedom of Expression and the main local and international frameworks; safety and security advice for journalists; safety precaution for women reporters; dealing with potentially traumatic events; digital security as well as risk assessment for reporters before undertaking dangerous reporting assignments. Experts from Digital Shelter, a local organization that defends digital rights, and the Somali Explosives Management Authority provided important hands-on sessions and shared their experiences with participants.
Radio Barawe journalist Osman Aweys Bahar, who was among the participants, shared how the training has benefited him and explained how the skills he learned during the training sessions will strengthen his career when he return to his radio in Barawe.
“I am a journalist at Radio Barawe which is a community-owned radio station. I have been detained twice and my radio raided since April 2020. I am extremely excited to have been selected for this training,” said Mr. Bahar “I learned a lot of important safety and precaution tips. I did not know about risk assessment which is important for my job. But now I know it and I will use it for my work.”
CBA TV correspondent in Galmudug Maqsuud Abdullahi Mohamed, who is also SJS press freedom coordinator, noted that the training provided specific up-to-date information that is essential to her work and that of her colleagues.
“We are women journalists and we face various threats because of our work and our gender. Unfortunately, many of my fellow female reporters generally do not receive training. This training empowered us and made us fit for missions. I am excited about the high representation given to women colleagues. This was unprecedented,” adds Maqsuud “I want to urge female participants to use the content of the training and to support each other when you go back to your work stations.”
Radio Kulmiye journalist Fardowso Mohamud Sahal, who was assaulted and her phone confiscated by police during a public protest in Mogadishu in May, said the training provided her with a guidance on the protection of digital data as a journalist in the field.
“It was very significant and useful training for me. I congratulate SJS and the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives for their remarkable efforts in supporting Somali journalists. I am a reporter in the field. In May, the police attacked me and confiscated my phone. I didn’t know how to protect my data at the time,”adds Fardowso “Thanks to the trainers, I have got new skills to protect my digital data.”
In his closing remarks on Monday, SJS Secretary General, Abdalle Ahmed Mumin said that while press freedom and space for independent media are threatened in Somalia, the training aims to equip participating journalists with relevant skills.
“This training is historic. First, it strengthens the safety capacity of our journalists and it comes at a time when many journalists are preparing to cover the electoral process in Somalia. Second, this training provides an opportunity for women journalists who are still under-represented in training, ”added Mr. Mumin “On behalf of the entire Somali journalist community, I appreciate the generous support of the Canadian government through the Canada Fund for local initiatives.”
“The training addressed both physical and online security concerns for journalists as well as the exercise of the right to freedom of expression. Today, these trained journalists are able to return back to their workplaces and operate safely in an extremely difficult environment.
As announced by SJS Secretary General, After the training, SJS will create a network of trained journalist alumni so that they can share their experiences with other journalists in other places in Somalia. SJS will also launch a survey to study lessons learned from the project so that it can be implemented in other regions of the country.