Need to end the bloodshed

Somalia continues to be Africa’s most dangerous country for media personnel, with six more journalists killed since 2019, bringing the total killed since 2010 to more than 50. Political violence and corruption undermine the freedom to inform in Somalia. The pressure on journalists can come from many quarters, especially as much of the country is controlled by non-state entities or by autonomous regional governments that either do not or only barely recognise the central government’s authority. Journalists who refuse to censor themselves are liable to be the targets of bombings or shootings by Al-Shabaab militants – the leading killers of media personnel – or exposed to arbitrary detention (of which 2020 saw 32 cases), to torture or to the closure of their media by the authorities. The governments in the autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland are particularly authoritarian and put a great deal of pressure on the local media. Journalists are often brought before military courts in an attempt to justify prolonged detention, or before courts that apply laws dating back to the military dictatorship. The new media law contains many draconian provisions and gives the information minister the extraordinary power to control all news production. During an unprecedented visit by RSF to Somalia in October 2020, RSF and its local partner organisation, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), shared their concerns with the president and prime minister. The latter undertook to impose a moratorium on arrests of journalists. This promise has yet to be realised while the country has been engulfed in a new political crisis preventing elections from being held as scheduled. Although journalists have until now been subjected to abuses almost systematically and with almost total impunity, the authorities have given some positive signals. A policeman who fatally shot a cameraman in Mogadishu in July 2018 was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison, even though he has not yet been arrested. Two soldiers were discharged from the army for tying up two journalists and leaving them in the sun. And a special prosecutor was appointed in 2020 to investigate murders of journalists. This was unprecedented in Somalia.

in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index



163 in 2020

Global score


55.45 in 2020

  • 1
    journalists killed in 2021
  • 0
    citizens journalists killed in 2021
  • 0
    media assistants killed in 2021
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