UNESCO strengthens the capacities of Security Forces to prevent abuses to Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists in Somalia

A training workshop for security forces on freedom of expression and the safety of journalists was organized from 12 to 14 April 2021 by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) with support from UNESCO through its Multi-Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists (MDP), and in close collaboration with the Somali National Commission for UNESCO.

The two-day training aimed at strengthening the capacities of participants to promote and uphold the fundamental right to freedom of expression, including the safety of journalists, in the exercise of their profession and particularly in the context of electoral processes. It also enhanced mutual and cordial professional relationships between security forces and journalists to create a more enabling environment for freedom of expression. This workshop further instilled in participants a better understanding of the role and power-check function of journalists in democratic societies, as well as of the importance of ensuring the safety of journalists, including media workers and social media producers in Somalia.

Mr. Hassan Hundubey Jimale, Minister for Internal Security of Somalia, who officiated the training, thanked UNESCO for facilitating this seminar in support of security forces in Somalia.

Intervening at the opening session of the seminar, Mr. Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), highlighted that journalists were already in a dangerous environment in Somalia, and that it was important that rather than just joining the ranks of violators of media freedom, the government and security agencies focus on protecting and defending them.

He further stated that it is important for security forces to protect journalists against attacks by those who seek to prevent them from informing the public. They must ensure that journalists can access areas and information about matters of public interest.

The workshop was attended by thirty-two (32) participants from the Somali Police Forces, National Intelligence and Security Agency, officials from the Ministry of Internal Security and journalists, of whom 23 males and 9 females, who were taken through the roles and rights of media as a conveyor of information to the public and the need for those rights to be recognized and protected by state institutions such as the security forces in Somalia.

This workshop is part of a series of trainings planned by UNESCO, in contribution to efforts and commitments by the United Nations Mission to Somalia (UNSOM) and in response to the need for fostering and strengthening mutual cooperation between the media sector, electoral bodies, and security forces to enhance freedom of expression and the safety of journalists in Somalia. In doing so, UNESCO strives to create an enabling environment for more effective dialogue among different stakeholders, notably by strengthening the capacities of existing media networks and coalitions, and by actively engaging duty bearers and rights holders in Somalia.

About the Multi-Donor Programme for Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists (MDP)

The MDP serves to further strengthen UNESCO work at a global, regional, and national levels, by channeling funds towards emerging priorities and the most pressing needs to achieve its mandate on freedom of expression. It enables UNESCO Communication and Information Sector to address complex issues through the design and implementation of holistic medium and long-term interventions at national, regional and global levels. The clear advantage of this mechanism is that it allows UNESCO and its partners to achieve greater impact and sustainability, whilst reducing fragmentation of activities in the same field.

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