The United Nations has called on Somalia to do more to protect press freedom and expression in a country where 30 journalists and 18 parliamentarians have been killed in four years.
In a report released on Sunday, journalists and political leaders in Somalia have witnessed numerous human rights violation.
“The trend of arrest and detention of journalists and other media workers seems to indicate an intention to intimidate or harass journalists and media owners which inevitably leads to self-censorship or to media workers eventually leaving the profession,” says the report produced jointly by the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Despite the vibrant media culture in Somalia – which hosts more than 90 media outlets and scores of websites and blogs,the country has witnessed several killings, attacks, arbitrary arrests and detention, intimidation, harassment, closure of media outlets, confiscation of equipment and blocking of websites.
While the greatest threat to journalists comes from the Al-Qaeda aligned Al-Shabab extremist group, which has vowed to bring down the Somali government, the country’s security forces are guilty of numerous violations against journalists and politicians.
The report also expressed concern about the law’s unclear terminology, which allows for subjective interpretation and undue restrictions to freedom of expression.
The report stresses, among other things, the need to strengthen the justice system to better protect freedom of expression.
Since January 2015, only ten of the 48 journalists and media workers who have been arrested have been brought before a court, it says.