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Young Female journalist uses the power of media to advocate for peace in Somalia

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Leyla Osman Mohamud talks passionately about the role of media in achieving peace in Somalia, but her actions talk even louder than her words.

“I always wanted to be part of the change for peace so that future generations can live a life better than me,” says this young journalist, adding that she cheated death on numerous occasions while on assignment.

Leyla witnessed the suffering of innocent civilians as a result of a senseless, decades-long war, and that experience prompted her to become a radio war correspondent.

“There were times when I got caught up in crossfire while reporting. One time, my colleagues were killed right in front of me. It was a horrifying experience that left me shattered,” Leyla recalls.

In another incident, the young broadcast journalist escaped death by a whisker when an artillery shell smashed a building she was in, while reporting live in Mogadishu. “Many people listening to the live report thought I was dead,” she says.

These two experiences were reason enough for Leyla to quit her profession, but she decided to continue and use the power of media to advocate for peace. Now a producer, presenter and newscaster at Goobjoog, a leading multi-media news organization, Leyla is determined to fight the root causes of conflict and war in her country.

“Somalia has experienced conflict for so long, and media must fully embrace its role in building peace,” she says.

Leyla’s beliefs are shared by her confreres. Yusuf Hassan, a veteran journalist, says that media can contribute to peace by credibly informing audience on relevant issues. “If the media broadcasts nothing but the truth – that is a cornerstone for peace,” Yusuf adds. Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimu, Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists, adds: “Media is the channel through which dialogue can be forged to achieve peace.”

Leyla says that being a popular figure on TV and radio can be rewarding, but has its downsides in a country considered one of the most dangerous places to work as a journalist.

“It is can be very scary being a journalist in Somalia, particularly Mogadishu. I cannot go out without covering my face,” she says, but remains optimistic that all her good work will not be in vain.

Leyla strongly believes that female journalists in Somalia can play an even bigger role in fostering peace and security, given their persuasive skills.

“Women are the backbone of the society, have a better understanding of their communities and great love for people. Female journalists are in a better position to come up with the best programmes on peace and development,” she adds.

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IFJ expresses concerns over the escalation of attacks on media freedom in Somalia

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The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned about the dangerous escalation of attacks on freedom of the media in Somalia after the authorities have tightened the noose on freedom of expression following imprisonment and reckless attacks on journalists during the past week.

On 4 January 2018, Ahmed Yusuf Suleman, reporter of Horn Cable Television, survived an attempted murder, after men armed with pistols who are believed to be plainclothes security officials fired four shots towards him, chased and caught him, and pointed a pistol at his head. The police reportedly intervened to release the journalist from the plainclothes officials though Suleman sustained wounds on both hands, legs, shoulders and hips.

On 7 January 2018, journalists Ahmed Dirie Iltire and Mohamed Abdullahi Hussein of Opens external link in new windowxeegonews.com were accused by Somaliland prosecutors in Borame in the Awdal region and sentenced to 2 years in prison. The prosecutors indicted the two journalists for “spreading propaganda against the nation, degrading the nation, and disgracing national flag and symbol of a foreign country”.

“We condemn this brazen assault on journalists in the strongest possible terms”, said IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger. “Gun touting men cannot be allowed to commit violence and cause bodily harm with impunity in Somalia. The Somali Government must demonstrate the required political will and show full commitment in its fight against impunity.”

The IFJ is deeply troubled about the continued imprisonment of journalists in Somaliland for expressing their right to freedom of expression. “The last few months have seen a sharp escalation in attacks by the Somaliland authorities through the judiciary on journalists and the media in general in a bid to silence dissent. This is a chilling setback for freedom of expression in Somaliland,” said Bellanger.

The IFJ reiterates its support to its Somalia affiliate, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), for its adamant stance to defend media freedom and journalists’ rights in the face of renewed and unwarranted attacks against Somali journalists and their union which is engineered by the Ministry of Information of Somali government. “Somali leaders must not allow perpetrators of these attacks go unpunished,” added Bellanger.

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Media Group: 81 Reporters Died, Threats Soared in 2017

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At least 81 reporters were killed doing their jobs this year, while violence and harassment against media staff has skyrocketed, the world’s biggest journalists’ organization says.

In its annual “Kill Report,” seen by The Associated Press, the International Federation of Journalists said the reporters lost their lives in targeted killings, car bomb attacks and crossfire incidents around the world.

More than 250 journalists were in prison in 2017.

The number of deaths as of December 29 was the lowest in a decade, down from 93 in 2016. The largest number were killed in Mexico, but many also died in conflict zones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

The IFJ suspected but could not officially confirm that at least one other journalist was killed Thursday in an attack by an Islamic State suicide bomber on a Shiite cultural center in Kabul, in which at least 41 people died.

IFJ President Philippe Leruth said that while the drop in deaths “represents a downward trend, the levels of violence in journalism remain unacceptably high.”
He said the IFJ finds it “most disturbing that this decrease cannot be linked to any measure by governments to tackle the impunity for these crimes.”

Eight women journalists were killed, two in European democracies – Kim Wall in Denmark, who died on the submarine of an inventor she was writing about, and Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who was blown up by a bomb placed in her car.

Beyond the deaths, the IFJ warned that “unprecedented numbers of journalists were jailed, forced to flee, that self-censorship was widespread and that impunity for the killings, harassment, attacks and threats against independent journalism was running at epidemic levels.”

Turkey, where official pressure on the media has been ramped up since a failed coup attempt in July 2016, is becoming notorious for putting reporters behind bars. Some 160 journalists are jailed in Turkey – two-thirds of the global total – the report said.

The organization also expressed concern about India, the world’s largest democracy, where it said that attacks on journalists are being motivated by violent populism.

Countries with the highest numbers of media killings:

Mexico: 13

Afghanistan: 11

Iraq: 11

Syria: 10

India: 6

Philippines: 4

Pakistan: 4

Nigeria: 3

Somalia: 3

Honduras: 3

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UNESCO Calls for Investigation Into Death of Journalist in Somalia

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SPUTNIK — UNESCO condemned the recent killing of journalist Mohamed Ibrahim Gabow in Somali and has called for an investigation into his death, the United Nations agency’s Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in a statement on Thursday.

“I condemn the killing of Mohamed Ibrahim Gabow,” Azoulay said. “I call on the Somali authorities to spare no effort in bringing to trial those responsible for this attack on the human rights of freedom of expression and freedom of information.”

Gabow, a television presenter for the Mogadishu-based Kalsan TV, was killed on December 11 in the Somali capital when a bomb planted in his car detonated, according to local media reports.

Somalia has been engulfed in violence since the eruption of a civil war between clan-based armed factions in the early 1990s. Al-Shabab, an affiliate of the Al-Qaeda terror network, has been staging numerous attacks in the country in an attempt to implement strict Sharia law.

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