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NUSOJ says media environment deteriorating in Somaliland

The quality of journalism in Somaliland is disintegrating from within, suffering from corruption of media outlets, as well as from attacks by the state, says a new report by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).

Print media is often attacked, says the report "Media freedom kept within bounds", but radio and electronic media are especially targeted by the state. In addition, corruption in the media is widespread. Some journalists are driven to accepting bribes because their salaries are not enough to survive on. Opposition parties feed select information to journalists to achieve their own political ends. But it is a crippling, vicious cycle with authorities putting severe financial restrictions on media that are critical of government ministries, by refusing to provide advertisements.

According to the report, which was prepared after a mission to the country, when a journalist is arrested, authorities contact tribal elders to discuss the journalist's case. The elders are misinformed about the freedom of expression rights of the journalists and hold them accountable as they are misled into believing they are being treated with deference by the state. The judiciary is also corrupted and the courts continue to fail journalists who are detained.

Journalists told NUSOJ that they have received threatening phone calls from police after filing reports and that some politicians hire thugs to assault journalists.

The report makes numerous recommendations, including: an end to repression of independent journalists; greater access to information; combating corruption within the media; educating judges about freedom of expression; ending abusive behaviour of the police towards journalists; and the development by media organisations of ethical journalistic standards and practices of fairness and accuracy.

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