Members of the Somalia National Committee for Safety of Journalists have called upon the Federal Government of Somalia to appoint a special prosecutor for crimes against journalists as a solution to the high levels of impunity for crimes committed against journalists in Somalia. This call was one of the many resolutions that the Committee endorsed after a two-day workshop, which took place on 15-16 September 2019, in Mogadishu, Somalia. The workshop was organized by the Federal Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, with the support of UNESCO, to devise strategies of addressing Somalia’s increasingly dangerous operating environment for journalists which has resulted in numerous fatalities.
According to the 2018 UNESCO Director General’s Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity, Somalia has over the last three years consistently recorded the highest number of journalists killed in Africa, accounting for half all the journalists killed on the continent. Yet, despite the high levels of fatalities of journalists, only 11% of cases of journalists killed have been judicially resolved, resulting in high levels of impunity. National efforts to address the problem of safety of journalists and the issue of impunity were given a boost in April 2018 when stakeholders from media, government and civil society convened in Somalia and established a National Mechanism for Safety of Journalists, which in turn appointed a multi-stakeholder National Coordination Committee to coordinate and harmonise all initiatives related to safety of journalists in Somalia, ensure government response to affronts on journalists, and support government in complying to its national, regional and international reporting obligations.
The meeting in Mogadishu this September 2019 was a follow up to the April 2018 meeting, and was attended by 30 representatives from media and civil society, as well as government, including the Federal and Federal Member States’ Ministries of Information, Women and Human Rights, and Internal Security.
Among other resolutions from the workshop, participants requested the Ministry of Justice of the Federal Government of Somalia to ratify the Protocol on the establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights, and make the declaration allowing Somali citizens and NGOs direct access to the Court. This recommendation is based on the benefits of ratifying this protocol, particularly the domestication of the landmark judgements on safety of journalists and criminal defamation that the African Court has made. The Participants also appealed the Federal Government of Somalia to enact the access to information law, law establishing the public service broadcaster, and support the implementation of the revised media law, to provide the legal and policy framework to support freedom of expression, access to information, and safety of journalists in Somalia.
Opening the workshop, the Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism of the Federal Government of Somalia, H.E. Adan Isak Ali assured participants of the Federal Government’s support to initiatives to protect journalists and fight impunity. “The safety of Somali Journalists is a responsibility for all the stakeholders in particular the Ministry of information, culture and tourism. We are committed to supporting the National Coordination Committee for safety of Journalists in ensuring punishment for crimes against media workers and ending impunity. It is important that we are in line with the international policies, mechanisms and implementing the SDG 16.10.1.", he said.