The Federation of Somali Journalists [FESOJ] has endorsed the appointment of a special prosecutor for crimes against reporters, terming it a positive step towards protection of press freedom.
Somalia’s Attorney General, Dr Suleiman Mohamed Mohamud, on Tuesday, appointed a special prosecutor to handle criminal activities targeting reporters following an outcry from journalists in the country.
FESOJ said the move will be a good shield to journalists who have endured endless harassment or even death.
“We welcome the appointment of a special prosecutor, but we want him to come up with real actions to resolve many of the standing and unresolved cases and also make a change the dire situation in which our journalists are working in.
“We do not want our ears to hear in the future that Somalia still is one of the first countries in the world that perpetrators who commit violence against journalists go unpunished,” Mohamed Moalimuu Secretary General of Federation of Somali Journalists said
The move followed a May 2020 order from the Benadir regional Court regarding investigations into killings of journalists in Somalia and apprehend those targeting them.
The AG’s Office said it will follow through to ensure journalists are not harassed in future.
The cries for special focus on threats to journalists had begun earlier though. Members of Somalia National Committee for Safety of Journalists including FESOJ called upon the Federal Government of Somalia to appoint a special prosecutor for crimes against journalists after a two-day workshop supported by UNESCO, in September 2019, in Mogadishu.
Somalia is one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world.
The Global Impunity Index, published by the Committee to Protect Journalists [CPJ] in 2019, for the fifth year in a row, listed Somalia as one of the worst countries in the world at prosecuting murderers of journalists.
FESOJ urged President Mohamed Farmaajo to follow through on pledges to decriminalise journalism and encourage freedom of expression through legal reform.
One of the laws often criticised in Somalia is the Penal Code of 1964 which includes “a number of vague and overly broad crimes, including criminal defamation, offending the honor and prestige of the head of state, insulting a public officer or institution and contempt against the nation, state or flag and so on,” according to FESOJ.