Government, Militants Target Somali Journalists, Group Says

(Bloomberg) -- Journalists in Somalia are not only targeted by al-Qaeda-linked militants, but also by government security forces, according to rights group Amnesty International.

Freedom of the media and expression have deteriorated since Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi, also known as Farmajo, took office in 2017, with rampant killings of journalists, arbitrary arrests and violent attacks, Amnesty said Thursday in a report titled “We live in perpetual fear.” At least eight journalists have been killed in south-central Somalia and Puntland since 2017 and another eight fled since October 2018, according to the report.

“Somali journalists are under siege,” said Deprose Muchena, the organization’s director for East and Southern Africa. “From barely surviving explosive-wired cars, being shot, beaten up and arbitrarily arrested, journalists are working in horrifying conditions.”

The Somali government rejected the report, saying it has reduced charges and prosecution of journalists while stepping up punishment of officials who mistreat scribes. “The report has overlooked the achievements registered by the federal government in challenging impunity” over the past three years, the information ministry said in an emailed statement.

Somalia, which has been unstable since the civil war that ousted then President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, tops the Committee to Protect Journalists’ list of countries where those who kill journalists aren’t prosecuted. Attempts at rebuilding Somalia have been disrupted by internal wrangles and attacks by al Shabaab militants who want to impose their version of Sharia law.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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