The Somalia Media Support Group (SMSG) held a two-day dialogue session on free and safe Somalia media on 15 and 16 November at AMISON VIP Conference room, Mogadishu Airport, Somalia. More than 40 participants, representing the Somalian media, the Federal Government and security agents, attended the event.
Speaking at the opening session, Mustafa Duhulow, Minister of Information of the Somalia Federal Government, said, “The dialogue aimed to address the safety of journalists, which is one of our key challenges in Somalia. It is an opportunity to hear how other countries solved issues of security and safety of journalists providing examples of best practices.”
Mohammed Ibrahim, Secretary General of National Union of Somalia Journalists (NUSOJ), noted that “the provisional constitution of Somalia guarantees freedom of expression.” However, statistics gathered since 2011 indicate that thirty journalists have been murdered, two of the incidents being reported in 2014. Three were wounded in the same year with five media houses closed and thirty-one journalists have been arrested. Only two incidents have been resolved. According to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), Somalia is among the most dangerous countries to work in as a journalist in the world.
The dialogue session, embracing the spirit of the commemoration of International Day to end Impunity celebrated on 2 November, also addressed issues of impunity of perpetuators of crimes against journalists. The two-day dialogue session contributed towards dialogue among media practitioners and security forces, exchanging international best practices on safety of journalists and projecting a way forward by drafting a national plan of action. This national plan of action, agreed upon during the dialogue session, will act as a guide in initiating the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity in Somalia. The priorities of the national plan of action are:
- raising awareness on the role of the media in reporting on security/terrorism and development;
- fostering unity, networking, advocacy skills and knowledge sharing among journalists in South Central, Puntland and Somaliland;
- opening lines of dialogue and engagement between media, government and key state institutions (police, judiciary, parliament, army) with a common strategy to deal with the media;
- developing safety and guidelines and protocol and carrying out training;
- enhancing media capacity on ethical reporting.
The Somalia Media Support Group (SMSG) was supported by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), Free Press Unlimited, International Media Support (IMS), Fojo Media Institute, Relief International and UNESCO.