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Statement to Human Rights Council on Situation in Somalia

Delivered by Mr Abukar Albadri, Journalist

Thank you Mr President,

On behalf of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and on my own behalf, as a journalist working in Somalia, I would like to thank the Independent Expert for his report. In particular we would like to echo the concerns he has expressed about the draft media law and his recommendation that its enactment should take these and other concerns from national and international observers into account.

The media bill that was sent to Parliament for consideration contains worrying restrictions of freedom of expression and access to information.

We appreciate the additional consultations that have taken place, and urge the removal of restrictive articles that would, for example, allow judges to order journalists to reveal their sources if the “dissemination of the information stirs public sentiments”. Overly broad provisions, such as the ban on publishing information that harms the country, the people or the religion, should be more clearly defined to avoid self-censorship on the part of journalists. Given that at least two journalists have been arrested and intimidated in the past six months for reporting on sensitive cases, the law should demonstrate how any limitations on freedom of expression serve a legitimate aim and are necessary in a democratic society in line with the ICCPR.

Journalists also continue to face unacceptable risks to their personal safety. Five journalists and a radio technician were assassinated this year, 18 others were killed in 2012. Last month three masked men gunned down a veteran radio technician Ahmed Sharif Hussein, just moments after a military court executed a young man convicted of killing of a journalist in September 2012.

We therefore endorse the Independent Expert’s recommendation to the Government to initiate effective and impartial investigations into the killing of journalists and media workers and prosecutions of those responsible.

From his experience as mandate-holder, what does he see as the main challenges to ensuring such investigations and prosecutions, and how would he recommend that these challenges be overcome?

I thank you.