By Abdiaziz Loyal – Mogadishu, Somalia, Sunday, May 3, 2020.
As the world celebrates World Press Freedom Day, Somalia press freedom is no better with many registered cases of press abuses. Amidst COVID-19 pandemic, the government authorities have been pinned aiding misinformation.
Somalia press umbrella, Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ) in this year’s report found that over five journalists have perished in a space of 12 months.
The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 of every year to be World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
According to FESOJ Secretary-General, Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, the media institutions in the spark of the Coronavirus pandemic have not been accorded opportunities by government leaders to talk about the pandemic which has aroused misinformation with many conspiracy theories taking shape among the population.
The President and the Prime Minister are among the pinned leaders. According to Mohamed, misinformation taking shape is a hindrance in fighting the pandemic in the horn of Africa.
“Romuors also proliferated that Somalis are immune to the disease and that the virus cannot survive in high-temperature climates like Somalia and so on. Journalists working in this period of the influx of misinformation over COVID-19 need to refer official figures to the authorized agencies involved in Coronavirus control, such as the Ministry of Health and WHO,” Mohamed said.
Also, FEOSJ 2020 report shows that the violation of journalists and media practitioners have moved from frying pan to fire. From May 2019 to May 2020, four journalists were killed, 47 were physically tortured or harassed, 7 wounded, 5 media outlets were attacked while 64 were arbitrarily arrested in different parts of Somalia while carrying out their duties.
“The Right of Access to Information law is one of the most important tools citizens have to ensure the openness and transparency of their government and its institutions, and it plays a role in the promotion and protection of democracy, so FESOJ with the help of other media organisations in Somalia will prioritize in the coming years for Somalia to have access to information law,” said Mohamed.
Somalia registered the first Coronavirus case on 16th March 2020. Somalia now has 722 confirmed COVID-19 cases. The number of deaths stands at 32.