CIVICUS

MonitorTracking civic space

Somalia

Live rating: Repressed

Last updated on 24.06.2021 at 12:37

The Civic Space Developments

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Ongoing political crisis and intensified media crackdown

Ongoing political crisis and intensified media crackdown

On 21 April 2021, police officers detained Ali Said Mohamed, an independent journalist who reports for a Facebook news page, Mudug Journalist. His arrest was related to a story claiming that the Galkayo police arbitrarily arrest citizens and solicit bribes from detainees at the police station. The police officers released him without charges and managed to use his phone to delete the post. National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) officers allegedly threatened to shoot two journalists, Mohamed Ibrahim Bulbul and Khalid Maki, as they left the scene of a violent protest in Karan District, Mogadishu on 25 April 2021. The officers confiscated the journalists’ equipment, ordered them to delete the recorded footage, and cocked their pistol after the journalist asked for an explanation.

Expression

Journalists face clampdown in Somalia


On 21 April 2021, police officers detained Ali Said Mohamed, an independent journalist who reports for a Facebook news page, Mudug Journalist. His arrest was related to a story claiming that the Galkayo police arbitrarily arrest citizens and solicit bribes from detainees at the police station. The police officers released him without charges and managed to use his phone to delete the post. National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) officers allegedly threatened to shoot two journalists, Mohamed Ibrahim Bulbul and Khalid Maki, as they left the scene of a violent protest in Karan District, Mogadishu on 25 April 2021. The officers confiscated the journalists’ equipment, ordered them to delete the recorded footage, and cocked their pistol after the journalist asked for an explanation.

In another incident, on 25 April 2021, two police officers assaulted, detained, and damaged Bashir Ali’s equipment. Bashir Ali, a journalist, requested authorization from the two policemen to record a story concerning conflict between the opposition and the government; however, Ali claims that once he started recording, the policemen struck him with their firearms, forced him to lay down, and fired the gun near his ear, causing damage to his hearing. He alleged that he was then detained for two hours and that police broke his phone and camera. On 27 April 2021, armed Haramcad officers invaded the Mustaqbal Media offices, confiscated equipment, and struck Bashir Mohammed with a gun and threatened to shoot him. According to Bashir and the media director Ahmed Isse, five staff members were held inside the building by the officers for five hours.

On 28 April 2021, Aden Abdi Eidle was released by the Hargeisa Court after spending 14 days in police custody, as previously reported by the Monitor. Eidle’s arrest was linked to an alleged publication of photos and an article accusing the Governor of the Central Bank of corruption. On 16 May 2021, NISA officers assaulted and threatened Fardowso Mohamud Sahal, a reporter from radio Kulmiye, while covering a protest. Parents protested “missing” young men who were allegedly recruited and sent to Eritrea, and possibly later to Ethiopia’s Tigray region, by the Somali government. The authorities reportedly ordered all journalists to stop covering the protest and leave immediately before assaulting Sahal.

Association

Gunfire between army and armed allies of opposition leaders

On 27 April 2021, gunfire erupted in Somalia between the army and armed allies of opposition leaders, resulting in three casualties. The election stalemate has increased instability and heightened clan division, as soldiers supporting opposition figures and groups “vowed to remove the president by force”.

"We need both sides to stop the fighting, have sympathy with the children and elderly" said Farah Hassan

Political conflict may destabilise Somalia

On 2 May 2021, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmaajo” abandoned the two-year term extension passed by the Lower House in April and returned to the 17 September 2020 Electoral Agreement, which will allow for indirect presidential and parliamentary elections. On 27 May 2021, the Prime Minister, Mohammed Hussein Roble and the five leaders of the regional states signed an agreement to hold a parliamentary election within 60 days. In February 2021, President Farmaajo faced a leadership crisis as his term ended with no clear path toward national elections. Opposition parties announced that they no longer recognised his authority. The Lower House then adopted a resolution extending all federal mandates for two years, a move that was rejected as unconstitutional and triggered strong reactions both within Somalia (in particular by the Senate and opposition forces) and abroad, with donors and partners threatening sanctions. 

Peaceful Assembly

The authorities rarely respect the freedom to assemble peacefully.

The authorities rarely respect the freedom to assemble peacefully even though this right is enshrined in Article 20 of Somalia’s constitution. Protesters have been killed or injured by security forces using live ammunition to disperse them. Further the authorities regularly denies requests to gather, even if those meetings are small scale and held indoors. The state also has been reported to intimidate and threaten leaders of the Federation of Somali Trade Unions and the National Union of Somali Journalists.

Expression

Attacks on journalists continue in Somalia, although the provisional Constitution protects free speech.

Attacks on journalists continue in Somalia, although the provisional Constitution protects free speech. The Al-Shabaab armed group prohibits journalists from operating in areas under its control and continues to detain, threaten and harass media workers throughout the country.

Journalist have been arbitrary arrested in response to their investigative and critical reporting of the government or just questioning government officials. They have also faced violence and threats from government and non-state actors including kidnappings and attacks, including from Al-Shabaab.

Killings of journalists largely go uninvestigated and arrests and prosecutions are rare. A new repressive media law passed in July 2017 contains vaguely-worded provisions, broad restrictions on journalists and gives powers to the authorities to prosecute media workers