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African Commission adopts resolution on media attacks in Somalia

Mourners gather at the grave of Somali radio producer Abdihared Osman Aden, who was shot dead by unknown gunmen, in Mogadishu, 18 January 2013.
Mourners gather at the grave of Somali radio producer Abdihared Osman Aden, who was shot dead by unknown gunmen, in Mogadishu, 18 January 2013.

AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh

The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) welcomes the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights' (ACHPR) resolution addressing the continual attacks on media workers in Somalia.

Resolution 264: Resolution on Attacks Against Journalists and Media Practitioners in the Federal Republic of Somalia was passed at the ACHPR meeting at its 15th Extraordinary Session held in Banjul, The Gambia, from 7 – 14 March 2014.

In the resolution, the ACHPR "strongly condemns the serious violations of the right to life committed against journalists and media practitioners" and appeals for "the immediate cessation of harassment and intimidation aimed at independent media organisations" in Somalia. The ACHPR expressed particular concern for the targeting of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), which has been facing numerous restrictions and intimidation, including negative labeling, prosecutions and the physical harassment and intimidation of its members.

In the Reporters Without Borders 2014 Press Freedom Index Somalia ranked 176th out of 180 countries. In 2012, ACHPR released a similar resolution expressing deep concern about the number of journalists being killed. 2012 was the country's deadliest year on record, with the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) recording the killing of 18 journalists.

Also impinging on freedom of expression is the country's lack of an access to information law, institutionalized attacks on the National Union of Somali Journalists, and the existence of various laws criminalising freedom of expression, including criminal defamation in the penal code of Somalia.

On 29 March 2014, Sky FM editor and news presenter Nuradin Hassan was detained and is currently being held without charge. His detention is believed to be related to a report about a British advisor to the Prime Minister whose passport went missing, disrupting their travel plans. According to reports, authorities claimed that the report contained misleading information and questioned Nuradin about the source of his information.

As a network of leading African freedom of expression advocates, AFEX wishes to join the ACHPR's call for Somali authorities to investigate and bring to justice perpetrators of the killing of media workers and other violations of journalists' rights, to cease attacks on the National Union of Somali Journalists, to guarantee unions' independence and to remember their international obligations to respect the rights to life, freedom of expression, and freedom of association and assembly. Journalism is not a crime and media workers have the right to do their job without constant threats to their life and liberty.

Africa Freedom of Information Centre
Center for Media Studies & Peace Building
Human Rights Network for Journalists - Uganda
Journaliste en danger
Media Foundation for West Africa
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Rights Agenda
National Union of Somali Journalists
West African Journalists Association

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