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Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Somalia

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1998
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Somalia, February 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c5654ea.html [accessed 23 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Despite Hussein Aideed's election as president of Somalia by a council of clan leaders after the death of his father, warlord Gen. Mohammed Farah Aideed, in August 1996, there is still no recognized central government. Two years after the withdrawal of U.N. troops, the country remains under the control of various clan leaders. State institutions and public services have barely begun reconstruction. And although there is now relative peace in many parts of the country, several regions are still subject to frequent flare-ups of factional fighting.

Press freedom has been virtually non-existent in Somalia since independence was declared in 1960. Today, after more than six years of civil war and famine, there are about a dozen publications, and they survive with very little equipment. The weekly Sanca, for example, publishing with three typewriters, an old photocopier, scissors and some glue, is one of the better-equipped newspapers in the capital of Mogadishu.

Somali journalists are poorly paid and under constant pressure from the various armed factions. Often the victims of reprisals, journalists have been intimidated with death threats, arrests, and interrogations, and certain topics have been banned. Members of the press must observe safety precautions, including abiding by a 5 p.m. curfew, driving with an escort of several cars, and regularly changing bodyguards. Nevertheless, they continue to try to practice their profession in an extremely dangerous environment.

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