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Last updated on 04.12.2018 at 09:21


*Please note that updates on the Somalia page also cover developments in Somaliland*

The long-running conflict involving armed group Al-Shabaab and the Somali government, in addition to smaller conflicts with warlords over access to resources, continues to have a damaging effect on citizen’s basic freedoms,...

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Journalists slain as Somalia tops Media Impunity Index

Journalists slain as Somalia tops Media Impunity Index


On 5th October 2018, it was reported that defected founder and commander of militant Islamist group al-Shabab, Mukhtar Robow, was barred from running for public office in Somalia. A day after Robow declared his intention to run, the ministry of interior said in a statement that he is unable to put his name forward for the presidency of the country's South-West state as he still faces sanctions. He is the highest ranking al-Shabab militant to defect from the group, despite being one of its founders.

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that targeted an EU convoy on 1st October 2018 in Mogadishu, killing three and injuring others. The EU has been funding the African Union-mandated peace-keeping force (AMISOM) which defends Somali’s central government against the Islamists. 


On 10th September 2018, The Media Association of Puntland (MAP), the Puntland Non-State Actors’ Association (PUNSAA), and the Office of the Puntland Human Rights Defender (OPHRD), jointly called on the government of Puntland to uphold freedom of expression for journalists and citizens in the region.

On 18th September 2018, photojournalist Abdirizak Saed Osman was killed by unknown assailants while on his way home. Osman worked with the Galkaio’s radio ”Codka Nabada”, however, at the timing of writing, the motive for his murder remains unknown.

MAP chairperson, Mohamed Dahir Warsame said in a briefing:

“Mudug’s regional authorities alongside the Puntland’s State administration must meticulously investigate Abdirizak’s killing, including whether his Journalism profession could have been the motive.’’

In a separate but similar incident, on 27th October 2018, radio journalist Abdullahi Mire Hashi was killed by at least two unidentified gunmen in the town of Elasha Biyah. The gunmen fled the scene immediately after the attack.

In separate developments, on 22nd September 2018, authorities in the Galmudug detained broadcast journalist Mohamed Abdiwali Tohow without officially charging him. The reason for his arrest was 'spreading false news', in connection to a report he broadcast the previous day on the Mogadishu-based Radio Kulmiye, where he said that Al-Shabaab was regrouping in parts of the state.

CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo said:

"That Mohamed Abdiwali Tohow has not been charged with any crime, four days after he was arrested, demonstrates this is little more than an attempt to intimidate and punish the journalist for his reporting …Authorities in Galmudug should immediately release him without charge, and allow journalists to work freely, especially when they report on critical issues."

For the fourth year in a row, Somalia topped the Committee to Protect Journalist's 2018 Global Impunity Index, which documents and ranks countries where attacks against journalist are perpetrated with impunity 


There is limited space for CSOs to operate due to the armed conflict in many parts of the country, though associational rights are technically guaranteed in the provisional Constitution.

There is limited space for CSOs to operate due to the armed conflict in many parts of the country, though associational rights are technically guaranteed in Article 16 of the provisional Constitution of 2012. Operating without adequate oversight, the national intelligence agency routinely arrests and detains human rights activists, often with no formal charges pressed against them. Many Somali CSOs now operate from Kenya because of numerous incidents of attacks, abductions and killings of CSO employees.

Authorities also use the 1962 Penal code to harass human rights defenders, bringing charges against which include “instigation to disobey the laws and “publication or circulation of false, exaggerated and tendentious news capable of disturbing public order” among others.

Somalia also remains a dangerous place for international and domestic organisations working to address the country's serious humanitarian issues. Aid workers are constantly under threat, especially when carrying out fieldwork and in the southern parts of Somalia where the armed group Al-Shabaab dominates.

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.


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