AFEX condemns Crackdown on Media Freedom in Somalia, Demands Immediate Release of Detained Journalists
The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) is deeply concerned about the ongoing massive crackdown on media freedom and freedom of Expression in Somalia.
On 15th August, 2014, heavily armed security forces raided and shut down Radio Shabelle and SkyFM, both owned by Shabelle Media Network, and arrested 19 journalists and media workers. Those arrested included the Chairman of Shabelle Media Network, Abdimalik Yusuf Mohamud, and Director of SkyFM, Mohamud Mohamed Dahir. These media workers have been detained in the underground prison of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), a place where suspected terrorists are being kept.
In June this year, the Minister of Information submitted a draft media law, which would compel journalists to disclose their sources of information, to the Somali Council of Ministers to endorse so it will eventually be passed into law by Parliament. The Bill was subsequently withdrawn to allow for inputs from media stakeholders following intense pressure from media groups.
Until 2012, Somalia had been without a functioning state for over two decades. These periods witnessed arbitrary arrests and detention of journalists, frequent attacks on the media and other forms of serious human rights violations.
With the advent of a democratically elected government, AFEX expects the government of Somalia to guarantee freedom of expression as a fundamental prerequisite for democratic development and consolidation. This is why the ongoing violations are extremely worrying.
AFEX, therefore, calls for the immediate release of the detained journalists and the reopening of Shabelle Radio and SkyFM. Furthermore, AFEX calls for an immediate halt to the arbitrary arrests, torture and harassment of journalists and other free expression activists in Somalia.
AFEX is a network of African freedom of expression organisations, all members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), who seek to address freedom of expression challenges in Africa. Such challenges include laws and policies, traditions, customs, security and absence of capacity arising from ignorance, poverty and lack of access to technology
Please address all queries to:
Venancious Ngmenkom Tuor
The AFEX Co-ordinator
Media Foundation for West Africa, Accra, Ghana
Mobile: +233 268 110 356 / +233 204 433 699
Emails: [email protected]