Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia met Media practitioners ahead of today’s commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists and reassured them on the Federal Government’s commitment to end impunity for crimes against journalists. The President commended them for their tremendous sacrifices to provide news and information to the public.
Last night, Somali President hosted in Villa Somalia a dinner ceremony for media representatives and encouraged them to continue their tremendous sacrifices in delivering vital services of informing and educating the public. The President also listened to the concerns from media practitioners and found their conversation very useful.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/68/163 at its 68th session in 2013 which proclaimed 2 November as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’. “Today’s event is a strong sign for the Federal Government of Somalia to stress the importance to end impunity and our readiness to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity. I therefore, ask all concerned parties such as media stakeholders, government institutions and our international partners to work together in assisting our journalists so that they can fulfill their mandated tasks with professionalism, integrity, objectivity, impartiality and for the interest of our people and the national interest of our beloved country.” Said President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, the Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and Mahir Jama Aden, the President of NUSOJ shared the concerns of journalists and provided their recommendations, which the President of Somalia agreed and informed them that he will instruct the Federal Government Institutions to implement those recommendations in partnership with media practitioners.
Journalists took huge risks during the civil war. Their sacrifice was worthwhile as their involvements were significant for the progress that the country has been making for the last decade or so. “Without Somali journalists the country wouldn’t have achieved this much progress made in terms of security, accountability, transparency and development.” Said President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud “Somali journalists are our heroes and we must do all to protect them and end impunity for Crimes against Journalists.” Added the president.
President Mohamud said that the Federal Government of Somalia has zero tolerance when it comes to the killing of Somali journalists. The government took extreme measures to mitigate this and to show its full commitments to end Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. We carried out death penalties to four of these killers to our journalists. Hasan Hanafi Haji who was the mastermind of most of the killings of journalists on behalf of Al-Shabaab was brought to justice and publicly executed after securing his conviction at the courts. This is a clear demonstration that no one is above the law.
The security institutions had been alerted to take this issue very seriously. In response to this, the national Police has conducted a through investigation to all reported cases, and will continue to pursue all criminal thugs that target our journalists. Most of the cases reported never reached a stage of court proceedings due to lack of witnesses coming forward and no hard evidence available.
The terrorist groups’ aim of targeting our journalists is mainly an attempt to silence them. However, the Federal Government institutions, are working very hard to protect journalists despite the huge challenges facing the security institutions such as lack of capacity in legal proceedings and the difficulties in finding concrete evidence. Having said that, our priority has always been security while at the same time availing journalists an environment that is conducive for them to conduct their work without fear of intimidation and worse killings from terrorist groups.
Given the climate of security, there is no doubt that there have been cases whereby the security forces detained journalists for the sake of national security. However, these cases were dealt with, and the majority of cases, those journalists were released.
“We have worked very hard to implement coordination mechanisms between security forces and media via the Ministry of Information. We will continue to improve this coordination and partnership between security agencies and media outlets. Also, the Ministry of Information has conducted trainings to build the capacity of our journalists and security forces.” Said Somali President.
“Furthermore, I signed the Media Law into a decree and is to be implemented and we hope the country will soon have an independent and responsible Media Council that will regulate the media industry, so that our country will become one of the countries around the globe to have a free media as enshrined in our provisional constitution. Article 18 says Every person has the right to have and express their opinions and to receive and impart their opinion, information and ideas in any way.” Concluded the President, Hassan Sheik Mohamud.