Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Roble on Monday vowed to promote press freedom in the country.
Roble said Somali journalists face challenges of tackling misinformation and other harmful content while having their own security concerns.
“I took this opportunity to praise the sacrifices of Somali journalists and their resilience and commitment to serving and informing the public under very tough circumstances over the years,” he said in a statement issued in Mogadishu to mark the World Press Freedom Day Monday.
Roble said the government will come up with a solution to tackle disinformation which he said is affecting Somalia particularly during the transition period, urging Somali media to refrain from reporting unverified and unreliable information to improve the services media provides for the public.
The prime minister said Somali media should be contributing to the peace building and not to the incitement of election-related violence in the country.
The government of Somalia has been working hard to improve the working environment of the journalists by giving them access to government information, working closely with the private media and facilitating them to cover government events and also ensuring their safety, said Roble, who noted that Somalia is a country recovering from long years of civil war and going to achieve a democratic election, therefore the media can greatly contribute to the achievement of that goal.
“As you may be aware, our country is going to elections soon. My government will guarantee the safety of journalists and access to information. I urge journalists and the media to be responsible and do their job professionally,” he said.
According to Somali Journalists Syndicate, an association of media practitioners, from January to April, 30 journalists were arrested, with two of them indicted and three media houses raided.
In a separate statement issued in Mogadishu Monday, James Swan, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, also reaffirmed the importance of World Press Freedom Day, as it provides an opportunity to advance the principles of press freedom and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Swan said the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) plans to conduct capacity building training for about 160 journalists in 2021, adding that so far some 45 journalists have been trained.
The UN envoy said a free, independent and pluralistic media has never been so important to empower Somali women and men, strengthen good governance and the rule of law, and take forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“This year’s theme, ‘Information as a Public Good’ responds to the COVID-19 global pandemic, recognizing that with information which is freely distributed and received, families and communities can be guided and saved,” said Swan.
Somalia remains one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists with dozens having been killed, maimed or forced to leave the country since the outbreak of the civil war in 1991.