National Union of Somali Journalists and its affiliate regional member organizations with in-kind support from the United Nations Support Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) organized nationwide events bringing together hundreds of Somali journalists, the public and government officials to mark World Press Freedom Day celebrated globally every 3 of May.
This year’s theme of was keeping power in check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law. The NUSOJ event in Somalia generally focussed on promoting justice for media workers by reminding government officials on the need to respect media freedoms in Somalia.
In the capital Mogadishu, more than 200 journalists converged at the lush green peace garden and main hall where they were joined by government officials, civil society organizations and the UN to mark the day in style. Similar events were held in Baidoa, Kismayu, Jowhar, Dhusamareeb and Bosasso by affiliate NUSOJ media organizations.
The event in Mogadishu was attended by Acting Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism H.E. Abdirahman Idan Yonis, Chairman of the Somalia South Central Non State Actors (SOSCENSA) Dini Mohamed Dini, Communications Director, Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed and the UN Spokesman for Somalia Joseph Contreras.
Speaking during the event, NUSOJ Secretary General Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu thanked the participants who joined the media on World Press Freedom Day celebrations to show their solidarity.
“Today we dedicate our thoughts to our fallen media colleagues who lost their lives in the line of duty. We are also really sad to see such violations against the press still happening in some parts of Somalia. We wish to call upon authorities to stop press violations including arbitrary arrests, torture, acts of intimidations as well as crackdown of media outlets across the country and instead support and defend press freedoms as enshrined in our constitution,” Moalimuu said.
The Acting Minister of Information Mr. Yonis who spoke during the celebrations to mark World Press Freedom Day in Mogadishu said: “We have amended the Media Law to incorporate private media concerns; the law is currently before the federal parliament of Somalia. The ministry has also launched the National Mechanism for Safety of Journalism and is establishing the National Coordination Committee for Safety of Journalism. The Justice institutions are members of this committee to support the legal needs for Somali Journalists. The Federal
Government of Somalia has specified in the Constitution that Freedom of Speech is guaranteed.”
The Communications Director in the President’s office Mr. Ahmed reiterated the Somalia government respect for media freedom and quoted the President’s Twitter Message: “Many praise to the Somali media as we mark the World Press Freedom Day. You’ve shown resilience and commitment to your work, even under tough circumstances. My administration is committed to protecting the freedom of expression, a right enshrined in our Provisional Constitution,”
The UN Spokesman for Somalia Mr. Contreras shared the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia Micheal Keating’s goodwill message to the Somali media on this day urging an end to the culture of impunity and saluting the media for their bravery saying: “I salute the hundreds of Somali journalists who risk their lives on regular basis to do their job.”
Somalia Civil Society Chairman Mr. Dini send goodwill messages to the media in Somalia and urged them to continue informing the public and urged them not to concentrate on political news alone but also cover humanitarian disasters that affect the population.
The NUSOJ event in Mogadishu was also attended by its affiliate member organizations by the Somalia Women Journalists (SWJ), Somalia Independent Media Houses Association (SIMHA) and Somalia Media Association (SOMA).
Scroll down for the pictures of the event.