Photo: (from web) Journalists at a press conference in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Written by: 
Freedom Methodius

Working under a violence free environment has always been a dream to every Somali journalist yet it has been far from reach for a long time. Journalists seem to have lost hope due to increased cases of arrests, cold blood murders, gender-based violence and more, which seems to be a double-edged sword from both the government and the Al-Shabab military group.

Bishar Barre Jamar, a Somali journalist and a member of Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ) describes Somalia as a difficult and threatening working environment, which scares away journalists from fully exercising their skills and abilities to serve their purpose. "Physical attacks, detentions and intimidation continue against the journalists while the federal government has no clear plans to create a safe environment for journalists and media", said Jamar.

Several attempts to fight for media freedom have saved a number of journalists from facing the wrath of both the government and Al-Shabab fighters. The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is leading the media freedom campaigner. It aims at defending and advocating for freedom of expression. Omar Faruk Osman, the secretary general of the Union believes that his organisation will surely achieve media freedom in the country.

"As a journalists' union, NUSOJ fights for media freedom, fair working conditions, and ethical journalism in Somalia through national and international lobbying", Said Omar. "In line with these broad objectives, NUSOJ strives to promote and protect media freedom, freedom of information, improved working conditions, safety and security including the legal protection of journalists", he adds.



NUSOJ has been supported by other unions such as Somali South-west Journalists Association (SOWEJA) , Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ), Women in Media Initiative - Somalia (WIMISOM) and others with the same purpose of brightening the present and future of media workers in Somalia.

Several international organizations such as the United Nations have supported initiatives to achieve press freedom through training journalists and equipping them with necessary skills to efficiently execute their work alongside offering emotional support. The United Nations Education Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has embarked on training journalists on how to cover different fields such as politics, elections, conflicts and more. In October 2021, close to 190 journalists were successfully trained on how to cover politics. Of these, 57 were women journalists.

Further, Bishar Barre Jamar says that these media organizations have enabled their voices to be heard especially in the international community. "Major international media organizations sometimes offer assistance to journalists in need and do advocacy as well as lobbying campaigns for the release of arrested journalists. They also attend to those that are threatened or harmed", said Jamar.

However, much effort is still needed to curb the escalating violence and impunity against media workers in Somalia because the situation continues to be unfavorable. According to the report by NUSOJ on the state of media in Somalia in 2021, two journalists were killed, 34 arrested, 13 violently attacked, four media houses attacked and 16 female journalists faced gender-based violence. This makes a total of 69 violations against journalists in only one year. The report cites the murder of 56 year old Jamar Farah Adan, a veteran journalist who was attacked on 1st March 2021 by two armed men and shot twice in the head in the Galkayo's Siinay neighborhood.