The Federation of Somali Journalists FESOJ, in cooperation with the Free Press Unlimited under the project of Our Right to Know supported by the EU organized one-day symposium on Council of Peace at Hotel Badar in Dhuusamareeb city, Galmudug State focusing on the safety and protection of journalists ahead of Galmudug elections.
The program Council of Peace is titled “Strengthening security agencies and media relations for the safety of journalists, access of information, freedom of expression and media freedom in Somalia”
The aim of the meeting was institute confidence-building mechanisms and professional journalistic processes to facilitate dialogue between the security agencies and media, fostering greater understanding and eliminate distrust and mutual suspicion in order to promote and create an environment conducive to freedom of media and safety of journalists during elections.
The symposium discussed how understanding could be established between all stakeholders that is the media and security agencies, which allow and facilitate each part conduct its duties, while at the same time any party not to be challenge to the other.
The meeting attracted considerable number of journalists working in Dhuusamareeb city, Moalim Nur Elmi Abdulle , Governor and Mayor of Dhuusamareeb City, Abshir Abdi Shiikhow, Minister of Constitution of Galmudug State, Mohamed Nur Diini, Deputy Minister of Energy and Water, Colonel Abdullahi Hassan Ali , Dhuusamareeb Police Commander, Mahad Khalif Rooble and Farah Warsame Jama (Garas), Senior officials of the Somali Custodial Forces.
It was a follow up to a similar meeting held last year in 2018 and was also a direct follow-up to the implementation of a priority identified by stakeholders on the safety of journalists so that lines of dialogue can be opened and agreement between media, security agencies as well key state institutions with a common strategy to deal with the safety and security of journalists.
During the debate and discussions, the participants were taken through the main topics on how to communicate with the media, operational safety procedures when dealing with the journalists and freedom of expression, and how security forces can ensure that journalists can access the information they need to pass to the public.
In his opening remarks, the second deputy President of FESOJ Abdifatah Hassan Farah said its fundamental human rights to ask for, and receive information held by the public organizations and government bodies, its therefore imperative that the security agencies allow journalists to carry out their work freely by providing information that the public needs to know.
All the officials who attended the meeting noted that there are challenges facing the Somali media; and they are prepared to work with the Somali journalists. They have also called the journalists to avoid transmitting fake news that some of the journalists rush to.
Journalists got an opportunity to interact and ask direct questions regarding their safety and security with the police officers and other government officials attended the meeting, particularly on the daily challenges they come across during news gathering in the city or outskirts of Dhuusamareeb city.
The security forces have replied to all the significant questions that have been raised.
“In elections, journalists face challenges so this symposium has come an important period as Galmudug prepares for elections, and we want the media to get collaborations from all parties” Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu FESOJ Secretary General said.
In conclusion, all the parties attending in the meeting has agreed to work together, with the view everything in terms of the rules each party operates on.
The meeting was closed by the second deputy President of FESOJ Abdifatah Hassan Farah who thanked the participants for their frank discussion of key issues affecting media freedom and access to information.
Since the relationship between the media and security agencies, including those in the law enforcement and intelligence services, has always been a delicate one in Somalia and often characterized by frequent clashes, arising from a somewhat startling inability of either side to fully appreciate the role of the other in society, In conclusion it was agreed that such meetings should be continued to lead for real cooperation and both sides should come up and establish a taskforce for further dialogues.