Somalia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Somalia

Somalia

Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

83

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

33

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

24

Somalia's charter provides for press freedom, but this is restricted in practice. The inauguration of a new federal parliament and prime minister led to greater calls to respect media independence. However, in 2004 the transitional government issued a new press law that forces media outlets to register with the attorney general's office, criminalizes defamation of public officials, and imposes steep penalties on the publication of military secrets.

The country has about 20 privately owned newspapers, a dozen radio and television stations, and several Internet news sites. Most of the independent newspapers or newsletters that circulate in Mogadishu are linked to one faction or another. Owing to the weakness of the state, most media outlets receive the protection of the clan behind their publication. There were numerous instances of journalists being harassed, beaten, and detained with impunity throughout the country, but particularly in the capital. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Abshit Ali Gabre of the independent station Radio Jawhar was detained twice by forces loyal to Mohamed Dhere, chairman of the self-appointed administration in Jawhar, because of the station's criticism of Dhere's position on the peace talks in Kenya. Dhere's militiamen also detained, assaulted, and banned Radio Banadir's Adbiwani Sheik Mohamed for broadcasting a report on a management dispute at a Jawhar mosque. Bribery and corruption remain a problem because of the very low pay of most journalists, about US$18 per month.

Press freedom is very limited in the country's two self-declared autonomous regions, particularly as it relates to coverage of politics and insecurity. In January 2004, two radio journalists were detained briefly by authorities in Puntland for coverage of the escalating border dispute between Puntland and Somaliland. In April, the editor of an independent weekly newspaper, War-Ogaal, was arrested and jailed for more than a month without charge for publishing an article accusing a Puntland minister of corruption. Hassan Said Yusuf, editor of the Somaliland independent daily newspaper Jamhuuriya, was arrested in September for the fifteenth time in 10 years. The international media watchdog Reporters sans frontieres described the incident as the latest in a long campaign of legal harassment. Yusuf was freed and absolved of all charges by a regional court the following month.