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NUSOJ's 2009 annual report on press freedom

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - 31 December 2009 - 2009 was a year of darkness, death, displacement, detention and violence against journalists and the entire media fraternity in Somalia, according to the annual report unveiled today by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).

In the year alone, a total of nine (9) journalists were killed either in the line of duty or in targeted brutal attacks by enemies of media freedom, making Somalia the most dangerous place for a journalist in Africa.

According to the report, a total of 12 journalists were wounded and 15 others arrested in a systematic and well-coordinated affront against the media in the Horn of Africa country. Another 100 journalists received death threats.

The annual report on press freedom violations, the most authoritative publication produced in Somalia on the state of media freedom and rights of journalists, covers the southern and central regions, Puntland and Somaliland. The report, this year, documents media deaths, journalists wounded, media practitioners arrested, ransacking of media houses and constant death threats, which have sometimes led to journalists fleeing to neighbouring countries in fear for their lives.

"2009 became an outlandish and harrowing year as a wave of fiendish killings, arrests, death threats and intimidations against journalists reached incomparable levels in the known history of Somali journalism," the NUSOJ report says.

The ensuing oppression and viciousness claimed the lives of media executives, reporters, photojournalists and cameramen, who were all working with electronic media, and also resulted in unparalleled levels of journalists wounded and arrested, continues the report, titled "War on Journalism in Somalia: Death, Displacement and Desolation". Seven out of the nine journalists killed were murdered in Mogadishu. One was killed in Afgoye and another one in Beledweyne.

"Assassins' bullets are felling journalists in cold-blooded murder while anger from warring sides is increasingly directed against journalists and media outlets for their coverage of events and issues related to the political and security situation," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

"The past twelve months stand out as the darkest and deadliest period for journalism in Somalia. The work and life of journalists have become worthless and dispensable, while attacks against journalists continue unrestrained. Many of the killers are known but there is no justice for their victims," Faruk Osman added.

Besides the targeted assassinations, media professionals were also caught in the middle of combat zones. Warring sides in southern Somalia regard professional journalists who are dedicated to revealing the truth as either double agents or sympathizers of insurgents or radicals. Journalists in the southern regions are unwilling to step into many parts of the south for fear of their safety. This has blacked these areas from news, allowing untold atrocities to go on unreported. Journalists are exposed to numerous risks in travelling to these areas on authentic reporting assignments.

Read the full NUSOJ press release here

Download the report here:
2009_NUSOJ_ANNUAL_REPORT.pdf (3841 KB)

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