MOGADISHU – The International Human Rights Organizations have called upon the President of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Framajo to guarantee the freedom of the press in the country ahead of the upcoming elections.
A joint letter by the Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Press Watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) addressed towards the office of the President appealed for more measures to curb media violations.
“In the run-up to the national elections expected to take place in late 2020 or early 2021, the government’s commitment to free and independent reporting is especially important. Creating a conducive legal and security environment for the media requires important measures by your office and government, Excellency.” Read part of the letter.
The advocacy groups also stressed that they were highly concerned by the comments made by the head of state late last month that describe some practices of Somali media as unprofessional with possible links with the armed group al Shabaab.
“We are however concerned by the comments you made in the media on September 26, Your Excellency, claiming that that the media is acting unprofessionally and linking some journalists to Al-Shabaab. Such comments place Somali journalists, who already operate in a volatile context, at risk of reprisals and undermine the positive commitments made regarding media freedom.”
On the other hand, the three organizations have also praised President Farmajo government for the bold steps taken to advance media freedom including the approval of the amended media bill into law.
“We acknowledge the steps that your government has taken so far to improve media freedom and respect the right to freedom of expression in the country, particularly your expressed commitment on May 3, 2020, to review the penal code and to decriminalize journalism and, more recently, the attorney general’s decision to establish the office of a new prosecutor to deal with crimes against journalists. We also acknowledge that, positively, the new media law explicitly provides for the rights to freedom of expression1 and media freedom, including journalists’ rights to security and access to information.”