Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2017, 14:07 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 2011 - Somalia

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 22 February 2012
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2011 - Somalia, 22 February 2012, available at: [accessed 11 December 2017]
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.

Key Developments

  • AU forces kill Malaysian journalist; Somalia is region's deadliest nation.

  • Press freedom violations rise in Puntland and Somaliland.

Local and international journalists faced persistent, deadly violence, with both targeted murders and crossfire killings reported. Four soldiers with the African Union peacekeeping mission fired on a Malaysian humanitarian aid convoy in September, killing one journalist and injuring another. The AU mission in Somalia suspended the soldiers and returned them to their home country of Burundi for potential trial. Despite improved security in the capital, Mogadishu, journalists across the country continued to flee into exile to avoid threats and violence. Al-Shabaab militants and other insurgents continued to shutter independent radio stations in southern and central Somalia. Growing insecurity in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland led to increased attacks and arrests of journalists. In Somaliland, President Ahmed Mahmoud Silyano reneged on his 2010 campaign pledge to uphold press freedom and initiated a series of state- sponsored criminal defamation cases against the region's private press.

[Refworld note: The sections that follow represent a best effort to transcribe onto a single page information that appears in tabs on the CPJ's own pages, which also include a number of graphics not readily reproducible here. Refworld researchers are therefore strongly recommended to check against the original report: Attacks on the Press in 2011.]

Impunity Index ranking: 2nd

With at least 10 unsolved murders of journalists in the last decade, Somalia has the worst rating in Africa and the second worst worldwide in combating deadly attacks on the press, CPJ's Impunity Index shows.

CPJ's 2011 Impunity index:

1. Iraq
2. Somalia
3. Philippines
4. Sri Lanka
5. Colombia
6. Afghanistan
7. Nepal
8. Mexico
9. Russia
10. Pakistan
11. Bangladesh
12. Brazil
13. India

In exile, 2001-11: 68

Facing threats, attacks, and harassment, Somali journalists have fled the country by the dozens over the past decade, according to CPJ's annual report on exiled journalists. The exodus has decimated the local press corps and left a significant void in coverage seen internationally. Worldwide, only Ethiopian journalists have fled in higher numbers over the past decade, according to CPJ research.

79 Ethiopia
68 Somalia
66 Iran
55 Iraq
49 Zimbabwe
47 Eritrea
25 Sri Lanka
25 Cuba
20 Colombia
18 Haiti
18 Rwanda
18 Uzbekistan
17 Gambia

Killed since 2007: 22

Local and international journalists and media support staff face myriad dangers in a country gripped by violence and instability. Journalists have been murdered or killed in crossfire on a regular basis.

Radio stations shut since 2007: 9

Insurgents, notably militants with Al-Shabaab, have routinely shuttered stations deemed critical of their operations, seizing the properties for use in spreading their own propaganda. A government-allied militia, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama'a, also seized a radio station.

Defamation cases in Somaliland: 7

Despite 2010 campaign pledges to uphold press freedom, Somaliland authorities routinely filed politically motivated criminal defamation complaints to silence critical reporting. Seven cases were filed in 2011 alone, CPJ research shows.

Newspapers targeted in 2011:

Hargeisa Star (three times)





Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

Search Refworld