Somali reporters seek greater protection ahead of World Press Freedom Day


Mogadishu (HOL) – NUSOJ held a webinar on Thursday to commemorate World Press Freedom Day in Somalia and to increase awareness of the plight of reporters in Somalia.

According to a report from Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Somalia remains one of the most dangerous places to practice journalism on the planet. It consistently ranks at the bottom of the World Press Freedom index, and in 2021, it ranked 161st out of a possible 180 countries.

The webinar was titled ‘How Legal Actions, Covert Surveillance and Financial Pressure Silence.’  The panel hosted by Omar Faruk Osman, the Secretary-General of NUSOJ and included several speakers, including Staffan Tillander, Sweden’s Ambassador to Somalia; Arnaud Froger, head of the Africa desk at Reporters Without Borders; and Jamesina King, the Commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

There were over two dozen Somali journalists who participated in the webinar from across the media spectrum.

The objectives of the webinar discussion were to reflect on pressing challenges and limitations to press freedom and freedom of expression in Somalia.

Panellists described how censorship and harassment of reporters as government authorities – both at the regional and federal level – and armed groups grow more intolerant of media that challenges their narrative. The panel agreed that the intimidation often leads to self-censorship and sometimes causes reporters to quit their jobs or flee their homes.

Somali journalists said they were particularly perturbed by Somalia’s new media law, which was enacted on August 15, 2020. Reporters say that the new legislation criminalizes journalism and the fundamental right of freedom of expression.

World Press Freedom Day will be celebrated on May 3, 2021.