MOGADISHU, Somalia, 25 October, 2019 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) is alarmed by the rising levels of online harassment and intimidations against journalists which raise safety concerns in Somalia in particular those in the capital and in the northeastern regions.
Since mid last month, SJS documented more than 15 cases of journalists who have become subject to online harassment and intimidation. Among the cases documented include prominent female journalist who was physically harassed, while covering the Somali Federal Parliament on 09 October, 2019.
In another instance, a Mogadishu-based journalist working for an international news outlet has been harassed online and taunted last week after his name was published on various abusive social media platforms.
Journalists in Puntland reported multiple instances of online threats and harassment by organized groups targeting independent journalists. From Monday 14 October to Friday 25 October, SJS documented nine cases of targeted online attacks including to attempted Facebook hackings against independent journalists.
SJS is extremely worried that female reporters covering local or national politics are particularly vulnerable to these online threats and harassment and had already had a chilling effect on them.
“I could not sleep for several nights. I am scared of checking my social media accounts or even as I used to do- sharing my news reports online because these trolls would start attacking me again,” one female reporter told SJS.
“We are really concerned that online threats and harassment have now become a major safety concern for the media practitioners,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said “We condemn these kind of attacks and we call for local and national authorities to ensure the safety of affected journalists.”
SJS is also worried that many of the local journalists faced these online threats and harassments have no idea of how to mitigate and remain safer online.
“It is very important that journalists remain safe online and physically. While we ask authorities to investigate these cases of online and physical threats against journalists, we would also like to urge editors where affected journalists are working to take steps ensuring the safety of these journalists,” adds Mr Mumin.
In a separate development, Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) is worried about the situation of the press freedom in Somaliland where at least three journalists fled into exile in the past weeks.
Faced by trauma and uncertainty, three journalists from Hargeisa who spoke to SJS said they fled their homes under threats of imprisonment, torture and other violence by the authorities due to their work or because of critical reports broadcasted by their respective media.