Somalia Remains Deadliest Place for Journalists


Government Arrests and Al-shabab Kills Journalists in Somalia

Time and again Somalia is one of the riskiest and most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

Human rights conditions in the country remain grim and fragile, with murder, assassinations, targeted bombings, harassment, rape and displacement in all parts of the country.

The Federal Government came under harsh criticism as they always appear to be committing freedom of speech violations.

Abdulfatah Kalgaal, a well-known visual impaired radio journalist in Mogadishu was arrested on Tuesday from his house in Wadajir district.

Abdulfatah works for Gobjog radio station as a reporter and he is currently jailed at criminal investigation headquarters in Mogadishu.

Journalists are arrested and media houses are closed down by the government. In August, broadcasters Radio Shabelle and Sky FM were closed down and 19 of their journalists and media workers were arrested.

And it was only last Friday when armed gunmen believed to be Al-shabaab members shot a young photographer five times at the state run radio Mogadishu and SNTV, near Casa Populare in Hodan district around 5:00pm local time and the attackers fled the scene immediately. Farhan was rushed to Madian Hospital, where he is currently receiving treatment.

The National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) issued a ban on national media coverage of all Al-Shabaab activities. Al-Shabaab on the other hand, imposed severe restrictions on media freedom and banned the internet in areas under its control.

This was followed by Somali National Security and Intelligence Agency (NISA) raiding the premises of Shabelle Radio on April 3, 2015. Its director Mohamed Muse and editor Ahmed Abdi Hassan were both arrested after the radio station aired a recorded audio message of al-Shabaab’s spokesperson on the recent Garisa attack in Kenya.

On September 4, NISA Shutdown Radio SIMBA and Kulmiye radio while detaining three SIMBA Radio journalists and the director of Radio Kulmiye, Osman Abdullahi Guure and the director of the state run Radio Mogadishu Abdirahim Isse Addow, while briefly shutting down Kulmiye radio, after the radio stations aired the al-Shabaab spokesperson’s original quote rebroadcast from VOA Somali service.

Civil-war and terror have forced over two million people to leave their homes, seeking as refugee status in neighboring countries.

The Committee to protect journalists recorded 56 journalist deaths in Somalia since 1992.

Humanitarian workers, journalists and human rights activists are at risk of killings and abductions.

Killing of journalists has been one of the greatest threats to press freedom in Somalia.

Press Freedom at Risk in Somalia (PDF)

As the country’s media landscape remains in turmoil and despite increased international attention Somali governments fail to take action to reduce the high rates of targeted violence and impunity.

Omar Wardere is a Somali researcher, reporter and editor. He is a committee member of National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and member of Foreign Correspondents Association of East Africa.