Somalia to launch multi-stakeholder dialogue forum for safety of journalists

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Somalia will become the first country in Eastern Africa to launch a multi-stakeholder dialogue forum for safety of journalists when stakeholders from the media, government, human rights organisations and civil society convene this Saturday 21 April 2018 in Mogadishu, Somalia for a two-day dialogue towards the establishment of a national mechanism for the safety of journalists.

The meeting, which is organized by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, is supported by UNESCO and other international media actors under their coordination platform known as the Somalia Media Support Group (SMSG). It will take place at the AMISOM VIP Conference facility, in Mogadishu International Airport, and will seek to prescribe a response mechanism to unpunished crimes against journalists in Somalia.

Because of cycles of conflict and fragility that have spanned decades, Somalia has over the years recorded one of the highest numbers of crimes against journalists in the world that go unpunished. In a period of 10 years between 2006-2016 for example, UNESCO recorded a list of 56 journalists killed. While in 2017 the Federal Government of Somalia responded to UNESCO’s Director General on judicial investigations and reporting as per UN Resolution 29 on the condemnation of violence against journalists, full investigation of all the past and current cases has not been complete.

The two-day meeting will, therefore, mobilize the comparative competences of both state and non-state media stakeholders into a dialogue process towards a Multi-stakeholder dialogue forum for safety of journalists that is expected to provide the necessary support to the Government in dealing with the issue of impunity for crimes against journalists.

The acting Minister of Information, Culture & Tourism, Honourable Abdirahman Idan Yonis expresses his appreciation to UNESCO and SMSG and other International partners for their continued support for Development of Somalia. The Minister said that the ministry of Information is committed to fully cooperate with any organisation or country that plans to assist Somali Media.

The meeting will among others, discuss how existing state and non-state initiatives for protection of journalists can be strengthened, coordinated, and harmonized, and how such initiatives can support the implementation of the Federal Government of Somalia Media Strategy in which improving media security is one of the key strategic priorities.

At the end of the meeting, over 50 delegates from the Federal, Jubaland, Puntland, South-West, Galmugud, Hirshabelle and Benadir regional administration, are expected to launch the Somalia Multistakeholder Dialogue Forum for Safety of Journalists as a co-ordination platform for comprehensively addressing the safety of journalists concerns in Somalia, and for building partnerships among all stakeholders in media freedom.

The launch of the Somalia Multi-stakeholder platform in Somalia is a follow up to the November 2017 Nairobi Declaration which, among others, called for developing national multi-stakeholder coordination systems bringing on board the three arms of government (Executive, Legislature and Judiciary) and all other media stakeholders with a mandate to promote and defend freedom of expression, press freedom, access to information and safety of journalists; comprehensively addressing the safety of journalists in the respective countries and in line with the national, regional and global resolutions including the resolution 29 of UNESCO General Conference 29th Session, Paris, November 1997” that invited the UNESCO DG to condemn violence against journalists in Member States; and also provide a platform for knowledge sharing and accountability.