Somalian security forces trained on safety of journalists and freedom of expression

UNESCO, in cooperation with United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), organised a three-day training workshop for security forces on safety of journalists and freedom of expression from 28 to 30 January 2016 in Mogadishu, Somalia.

The training was based on UNESCO’s Training Manual on Freedom of Expression and Public Order that aims at promoting transparency, facilitating and improving relations between security forces and the media, and also encouraging respect for the safety of journalists in the field to promote freedom of expression, particularly in the context of democratic transitions and post conflict situations.

The training attracted 30 participants comprising of 26 men and 4 women drawn from the Ministry of Security and National Intelligence Security Agency (NISA) in Mogadishu, Somalia. It was a follow up to a similar training workshop held last year from 2 to 4 June 2015 and was also a direct follow-up to the implementation of a priority identified by stakeholders on the safety of journalists so that lines of dialogue can be opened and agreement between media, government and key state institutions with a common strategy to deal with the media can be found.

During the workshop, participants were taken through thematic topics on how to communicate with the media; operational safety procedures when dealing with the media; journalism, democracy and freedom of expression; and how security forces can ensure that journalists can access the information they need. The workshop was facilitated by an expert from the Montreal Police, Canada, who employed a mix methodology comprising of presentations, group discussions, question-and-answers sessions, and practical exercises aimed at assisting participants to understand the various concepts and issues raised during the workshop.

At the end of the training, Mohamed Ali Jama, Director-General, Ministry of Internal Security, stated, “I am glad that UNESCO has again supported this training in Mogadishu. We need more similar trainings and it is the duty of each officer to share what they have learned from this workshop with their colleagues.” The Director-General further requested UNESCO to consider supporting specific trainings on media and security awareness for security forces in Mogadishu, Somalia.

This initiative is part of a wider effort to implement the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, spearheaded by UNESCO and endorsed by the UN Chief Executives Board on 12 April 2012 and confirmed by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 2013, which aims to coordinate the efforts of various actors in this area. This activity was supported by Sweden and falls within UNESCO’s framework of the project, entitled “Promoting an Enabling Environment for Freedom of Expression”, and aims at fostering the development of free, independent and pluralistic media. It also received a support from Norway. The project 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.