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Somali government recommits to protection of journalists

Among the measures announced during today's World Press Freedom Day celebrations include the speeding up of thorough investigations into the killing of journalists and better collaboration between security agencies and media workers.

"We are particularly pleased that the Ministry of Information has prioritised [the] protection of journalists. The state of lawlessness in Somalia has had a terrible impact on freedom of expression and, if implemented, we believe these renewed efforts will help prevent the targeted killings of journalists" said Henry Maina, director of ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa.

Speaking during a national conference hosted by ARTICLE 19 and held in Mogadishu to mark World Press Freedom Day, the deputy minister of Information, Posts and Telecommunications, Abdishakur Ali Mire, said that his ministry – together with the Parliamentary Committee on Information and the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) – will work together to ensure crimes against freedom of expression are punished.

The government also stated that the process of reviewing the media law is ongoing and that journalists from Puntland and Somaliland will also be consulted to give their input.

In 2012, 18 journalists were killed in the country. There has been only one conviction in relation to one of these cases. A military tribunal sentenced Adan Sheikh Andi Sheikh Hussein to death in March of this year for the killing of Radio Maanta's Hassan Yusuf Absuge in September 2012.

The situation for 2013 does not look to be showing any signs of improvement. Four media workers have been killed so far this year. Despite these widespread attacks, there is little accountability for violence against media workers, leading to a high level of self-censorship and forcing many journalists to escape into exile.

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