12 January 2011

Armed groups and politicians behind attacks on journalists, says NUSOJ

This week, two journalists for Somalia's leading independent media station Radio Shabelle were beaten by soldiers and officers of Somalia's transitional federal government while covering an innocuous football cup ceremony. The motive may have been a recent Radio Shabelle broadcast that revealed government corruption at the Mogadishu port. Incidents like these seem to be on the rise, says the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) in its year-end report.

In "'Mouth-Murder' and Media Hijacking: A Year of Heartache and Fear for Somali Journalists", NUSOJ says the transitional federal government has not only failed to safeguard human rights, but has perpetrated attacks against journalists and others.

However, Islamist armed forces, which now control the majority of the south and central regions, were still the lead perpetrators of violence against the media, says NUSOJ.

NUSOJ fears that as the transitional federal government rule ends this August, "politicians as well as armed groups will turn their guns on journalists who refuse to be cowed by their intimidation and manipulation."

While only three journalists were killed last year (compared to nine in 2009), armed Islamist groups, such as al-Shabaab, seized seven private media houses "to use them for war propaganda and hate campaigns against those who fail to promote their ideology," says NUSOJ.

NUSOJ also found that telephone and face-to-face death threats are widespread throughout Somalia. "Known as 'mouth-murdering' acts, these threats have driven around 90 journalists out of the country in the past two years," says NUSOJ.

Puntland, a semi-autonomous state in the northeast, has been experiencing a worsening press freedom climate, especially since anti-terrorism laws were put in place in July 2010, found NUSOJ. Last year a radio journalist was killed there and another journalist was given a six-year jail sentence, apparently the longest ever in the country, says NUSOJ.

To read detailed reports of the violations, read "'Mouth-Murder' and Media Hijacking" in full here.

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NUSOJ condemns assault, threats against Radio Shabelle journalists 11 January 2011
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