Mogadishu, (SOFO) – Today is Human Rights Day, an occasion commemorating the United Nations’ passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
For decades, Somalia has faced criticism for a range of human rights violations. These include the sexual violences against women and girls, number of public executions, arbitrary arrests, among many others.
The current government led by president Hassan Sheikh Mahmud made public commitments towards human rights, the president mentioned his zero tolerance of any abuse against human rights. That was praised by local and International human rights advocates. Shortly massive of violations carried out by state and non state actors took place in the capital city and other grounds in the country.
Human rights violations including killing civilians become normal in Somalia and we will specifically highlight the war on Somali’s media workers.
In 2013, security forces including intelligence personnel detained Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, a Somali journalist who interviewed a rape victim by armed men with government uniform in the capital city, the forces have also arrested Lul Ali Osman who told the journalist that government soldiers forcibly raped her at a jungle near her camp in Hodan district of Mogadishu. Both were convicted,sentenced and finally released by a court in Banadir.
Over five other media workers were also detained that year and at least seven journalists were assassinated. In 2014 The situation get worse as the current government conducted more media raids and physical attacks than the transitional federal government.
Security forces with battle wagons shut down Shabelle Media Network, a well known media organisation and arrested around 16 of its staff including the owner and the managing editor.
Following that the forces also briefly shut down three other independent media houses and detained their directors.
Two of Shabelle journalists including the editor-in-chief remain in prison for more than 100 days without trail.
Meanwhile, one of the shocking statements revealed when president Mohamud cited Al-shabab’s “ infiltration” in Somali media houses.
“It is very regrettable for a President to state that the overwhelming majority of independent media supports terrorist group,” said Gabriel Baglo, Africa director of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). “Independent media can’t be the voice of the Government, political parties nor any other terrorists group. They are playing a public service role in order to inform people with responsibility”.
However, at least five journalists were killed this year alone and more than seven sustained injury after unknown men targeted them at various places in Mogadishu and other regions.
The late journalists were killed on December 5, when twin blasts targeted a restaurant in Baidoa town. The attack which al-Shabaab militants claimed responsibility for, killed two journalists and injured three who were among 15 other civilians killed at the scene, Somalia Focus filed.
This increased the concern of journalist’s safety and the state of fear which forced many professionals to flee from their home.
Although, high level of government officials released statements with strong words to hold accountable to perpetrators the war on media remains as it was few years ago.
In a country without meaningful rule of law, journalists and other human and civil rights activists retain routinely intimidation from authorities who want to silence the free media and these actions already begun to affect the courage of the media workers to investigate and reveal wrong doings of state or other stakeholders.
Recently, the United Nations Independent Expert on the Human Rights Situation in Somalia Mr. Bahame Tom Mukirya met with senior government members including Somali’s women and Human rights minister, and according to Radio Mogadishu the two sides discussed how to promote human rights and develop their co-operation.
The government’s human rights record has been mixed. Human Rights Watch’s report this year stated that despite public pledges to tackle rights violations, implementation has been poor.
The al-Shabaab’s increased attacks on civilian places in the capital city and other major towns in southern Somalia have also committed abuses against human rights. Here Human rights day is like another day of trying to survive.
Written by the editor
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