The representatives of the Somalian National Intelligence and Security Agency, the Ministry of Information and the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) came together in Mogadishu from 2 to 4 June 2015 to better understand the role of security forces in protecting journalists.
The three-day training workshop organized by UNESCO, in cooperation with Relief International and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), provided an opportunity for security forces and the media to better understand their respective roles in maintaining democracy. The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism remarked that the training took place at the right time. “We urgently need to build the confidence and the partnership working between security forces and media, as they both aim to achieve a united Somalia that is democratic, peace and stable, he said.”
Through practical examples given by an international expert, participants reviewed safety operations and procedures when dealing with the media and discussed the role of security forces to ensure that journalists have access to information. The workshop also provided an opportunity to the 15 participants, five of whom were women, to get experience in basic communication skills and to learn how to deal with the media. First Colonel Nurdin Ahmed Alin from the Somalia Police Force remarked at the end of the workshop that the training was very interesting and provided him with technical skills that he would apply and use in his daily work. “I got experience and knowledge on how police and journalists can work together,” he added.
The training was based on UNESCO’s training manual, Freedom of Expression and Public Order, which provides security forces with both theoretical and practical tools to carry out their mission of maintaining order while respecting human rights, freedom of expression and the security of journalists. The manual elaborates on international standards of freedom of expression and the conditions in which this fundamental freedom can be restricted. It also highlights the important role of journalists in a democratic society and explains why safety of journalists has become a priority for organizations promoting freedom of expression.
The training was a direct follow-up to a two-day dialogue session on free and safe Somalia media that took place on 15 and 16 November 2014 and identified several priorities to address safety issues for journalists, such as:
- opening lines of dialogue and engagement between media, government and key state institutions with a common strategy to deal with the media; and
- raising awareness about the role of the media in reporting on security, terrorism and development.
The activity took place within the framework of the project, entitled “Promoting an Enabling Environment for Freedom of Expression”. This project is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and aims at fostering the development of free, independent and pluralistic media. It also promotes institutional capacity-building, the empowerment of women through widened access to information and the role of young people in dialogue, reconciliation and sustained peace.