As the violence in Mogadishu continues on a daily basis, Somali journalists are increasingly becoming intentional targets. So says the International Federation of Journalists.
Just this week, two gunmen entered the office of the organizing secretary of the National Union of Somali Journalists, Ali Moallim Isak. He had been receiving threatening phone calls, but was not in the office when the gunmen arrived.
Rachel Cohen is the spokesperson for the International Federation of Journalists. From Brussels, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the risks facing members of Somalia’s media.
“It’s an increasingly dangerous situation that they’re in. Obviously the fact that this is a conflict area makes it dangerous as it is for journalists. But really what we’re seeing here is the targeting of journalists and other media workers, media owners because of their work actually providing news and informing the public and also the international public at large about what’s going on in Somalia. They are now being considered targets by different groups within the country. What we’re seeing now is not so much that they are being caught up in general violence,” she says.
Cohen says it’s been very difficult trying to identify the many groups who’ve been making the threats or carrying out attacks against journalists.
“We know of seven journalists and other media workers who’ve been killed so far this year. Aside from that, we also know of other cases. For instance, 11 journalists we know have been arrested this year and very few of them have been charged officially. Some are being held without trial and without contact with family members, with lawyers, with their colleagues…there have been at least five cases of journalists being attacked and robbed,” she says.
The International Federation of Journalists is calling on the Somali Transitional Federal Government and all parties with interests in Somali to respect and protect the rights of journalists.