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 15 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 the 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 The bill was subsequently withdrawn to allow for inputs from media stakeholders following intense pressure from media groups.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.
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