Matt Baugh

Ambassador to Somalia

Part of UK in Somalia World Press Freedom Day

3rd May 2012 Nairobi, Kenya

Somalia: World Press Freedom Day

On World Press Freedom Day, my thoughts are with the families of the brave Somali journalists who were killed on the course of duty and those who still brave the dangers of operating in one of the most difficult places in the world to be a be a journalist.

The shocking fact is that so far in 2012 one Somali journalist has been murdered each month. The latest victim Farhan James Abdulle of Radio Daljir was killed in Galkayo yesterday.

Other victims in 2012 have been Mahad Salad Adan, a reporter for Radio Shabelle, Ali Ahmed Abdi, a Radio Galkayo reporter, Abukah Hassan Mohamoud who was the Ex-Director of Somaliweyn, and Hassan Omar Abdi who was the director of Radio Shabelle.

On behalf of the UK Government, I condemn the killing of Farhan and reiterate the statement of the UK Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham which condemned the killing of Abukah Hassan Mohamoud.

The UK stands for universal human rights, the rule of law, democracy and freedom of expression. As always we wish to express solidarity with Somali journalists in resisting intimidation and maintaining the freedom of the press.

Our commitment is clearly reflected in the Communique of the London Conference on Somalia where all participants emphasised that journalists must be able to operate freely and without fear.

This commitment is further highlighted in the 2011 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Human Rights and Democracy Report.  The report lists Somalia as one of the countries of concern.

The report notes that international and local media reporting remained limited and journalists continued to operate in extremely difficult circumstances, with media freedoms often suppressed and intimidation of Somali journalists and civil society by armed groups commonplace.

The next few months will be crucial as Somalia enters an important phase to end the transition in August, and more than ever there is a need to have a vibrant media sector in Somalia that will be able to inform the Somali public about all that is happening in their country.

It is important that the freedom of the press is enshrined in the new Constitution as this will guarantee the media the space to operate freely. It is in this regard that we look forward to the consultations regarding freedom of expression in Mogadishu next week.

I therefore call on Somali authorities to help protect journalists and respect the principal of freedom of expression, so that Somali media can play an effective role in the stabilisation of Somalia.

As we mark this day, I would like to assure Somali journalists and other stakeholders in the media that the UK will continue to stand with them.

Please leave a comment below with your thoughts about Press Freedom in Somalia.

13 comments on “Somalia: World Press Freedom Day

  1. My condolences to the families of those reporters who died doing a brave job in Somalia .

    After that, one behalf of Somali exiled journalists, we missed some of our great friends working in the ground like Abdisalan Sheikh Hassan known as “Hiis” from Horn Cable TV, Hassan Fantastic from Radio Shabelle, Abukar Mohamud named Kadaf, previous director of Radio Somaliweyn, Ali Abdi Ahmed Radio Galka’yo reporter, Mahad Salad, Radio Shabelle and Radio Voice of Hiran in B/weyne, Hiran region and Farhan James Abdulle

    I also thank Mr. Matt for your messages nd the solidarity you have expressed on behalf of your government.

    The journalists counting me who are suffering injuries inside Mogadishu and the neighboring countries like Kenya, Djibouti, and even Uganda and they need urgent assistance from international community.

  2. Dear Mr. Matt Baugh, after a discussion with some people I
    “developed” in my mind a possible solution.The British Commonwealth consists of 53 members. They all have to fulfill
    some conditions.Incl.: “Press Freedom” and “Human Rights”.
    Members like Ghana, Pakistan or Tanzania are facing- more or
    less- similiar problems.So is my possible suggestion:If Somalia
    would join the Commonwealth-“Press Freedom” or “Human Rights”would have to be a standard.
    BW , Ingo-Steven Wais, Stuttgart

  3. Dear Ambassador,

    My assessment of the Somali situation is that today next to the gunman the so called ‘journalist’ in Somalia has just as much to blame for the continued civil war.

    It is important to note that we are not talking about journalist who are foreign and which have come to Somalia to tell the rest of the world the plight of the Somali population.

    My experience has shown me that those who are currently controlling the flow of information in all of its forms are engaged in murderous propaganda.

    There are TV channels directly broadcast from London and into Somalia and which under the banner of journalism continue to preach hate and division.

    In a country like Somalia where the most basic rights are not guaranteed to a single human being its naive to think that journalists rights will be protected.

    To dedicate this entry to 5 journalist is a really disrespectful thing to do when there are thousands of Somali’s, young and old, women and men who are all perishing every year.

    This kind of a thing is a typical political spin. There are high and mighty groups representing journalists so lets advertise our very important concern in this area.

  4. Just as I get exited by the developments that Somalia may, and just may be able to stand on her foot, the Americans pick a fight with new groups in the Somali Society. Their recent allegations that seven Somalis who smuggled Khat from Britain to the US have used the proceeds to fund a terror relatied activity has shocked the secular Somalis. Britain must reject these allegations as preposterous and unfounded. The Khat users and the Shabaab don’t even talk to each other.

  5. My condolences to the families of these reporters who died doing a brave job in areas where most of us would not dare tread. And in regards to those of you that are trying to use this blog as an opportunity to voice your political opinions, (some of which are just such blatant propaganda with no basis or truth), this is not the place. There are other blogs related to those issues so I suggest that you use those for whatever ludicrous, tribal based statements you wish to impose on readers who are already sick of these comical Ali standard of propaganda.

  6. Gunpoint democracy of current Somaliland government &
    risky crisis it sparked off

    Mistreatment of opposition parties and the only woman candidate, Lady Fosia Adam, was outrageous, unacceptably and utter disgrace in political, social, cultural and in all traditional clan standards

    Since it came to power in 2010, Somaliland authority and its handpicked collaborators, including self-appointed and double agent warlords of khatumo, are getting away with murder, atrocities against civilians, political oppression and outspread corruption under the noses of all electorates and stakeholders.

    Fosia Adam, a respected politician and first female candidate for political leadership in whole Somalia and the only female leader amongst 15 political parties in Somaliland, and her supporters have been subjected to a barrage of political intimidation, physical abuse and unlawful arrests. Mrs Adam did not commit any crime, neither do her assaulted supporters. She was trying to exercise her own democratic rights lawfully. She formally requested permission to voice her concerns peacefully and lawfully from the ruthless authority which authorised recent outrageous acts of harassment against her. The paradox of prevailing dilemma is that police and army forces trained to protect the public, including Mrs Adam and her supporters, from terror plots of extremist groups are now terrorising peaceful civilians and politicians they intend to backup in open democratic process.

    Mrs Adam who came from well-known family in Hargaisa has personally explained the voices and live bullets used against her supporters in an interview she gave to VOA Somali programme on Monday 30 April 2012. A day later on May 1st 2012, the leader of NDP party Mrs Fosia Adam, M Odowa leader of Republican Party, Ahmed Sandoon of Damal party and deputy leader of UDHIS party were arrested under the orders of Authority. This incident was reported by almost all Somaliland media and number of regional and international sites including Somaliareport, allafrica, BBC and VOA.

    Being the only women leader amongst 15 political parties registered in Somaliland to date, she has been a role model for women’s voices and important figure promoting and advocating for equality of opportunities in Somaliland politics. On these grounds no one expected that her NDP party will be blocked.

    Apparently, Mrs Adam earned significant and rapidly growing supporters from all regions and she brought charisma and transparency to Somaliland’s clanised politics. This, of course, annoyed older fashioned gate-keepers trying to protect unpopular and unsustainable status quo. Whatever the authority’s reasons might have been, mistreatment of Lady Adam was outrageous, unacceptable and utterly disgraceful in political, social, cultural and in clans tradition standards.

    Somaliland authority’s explicit use of politically stirred violence is not limited to domestic matters or Mrs Adam and her political party. Leaders and supporters of other opposition parties who called for peaceful demonstrations after being blocked from participating in upcoming local elections without satisfactory justifications encountered similar problems of bullying and intimidation.

    Externally, the gunpoint democracy of Somaliland government has already instigated unnecessary confrontation and tragic bloodshed at both eastern and southern borders. It is responsible for and has the blood of civilians murdered in repeated atrocities, in the orders of this government between January 2011 and April 2012, around Buuhoodle region in its hands. The senior officers and public servants including former Hargaisa governor as well as a respected clan leader, Boqor Buurmadow, are still in prison for highly controversial and deeply suspicious allegations from the authority itself.

    These damming blunders were further exacerbated by the barbaric attack on the deputy leader of the Kulmiye party (i.e. the ruling party that put this government into power) Mr Abdulrahman Abdulqadir. This endeavour again illustrates reckless practice of present authority and the shameful character of its policy.
    These catalogue of political mismanagements presents evidence for misused position authority which undermines the law of the land and already dented peace and stability in Somaliland that northern Somali clans jointly built over the last two decades. Since current government came to office, there has been increasing activity of deploying militant guerrilla group style operations and growing risk slipping Somaliland back into clan based fragmentation.

    Politically and Socially high risk undertakings of Somaliland government triggered off the clan based conflicts in Buuhoodle and eastern regions within the first six months in office. The inhumane and worst case scenario has been blatant and repetitive use of Somaliland army to fight on behalf and alongside of one Somaliland clan and carryout appalling atrocities against civilians of another Somaliland clan in Buuhoodle region. Such acts violate religious, cultural and political values of all Somaliland clans. Yet, current authority committed atrocities of that nature against innocent civilians in all parts of Somaliland. Furthermore, it is callously committing these crimes in the name of Somaliland people and clans while most of its victims are Somaliland civilians.

    My final point is that blunders of Somaliland authority and their rising humanitarian and political costs are now too risky to ignore. It is the responsibility of all concerned parts to critically and peacefully challenge to contain its potential dangers and hold to account for its future actions.

  7. Thanks Matt for your message and the solidarity you have expressed on behalf of your government. This is another sad news from Somalia. Six journalists within six months, is a clear attempt to silence free press, and the voices of hope. By culture and by circumstances, Somalis like the follow the news frequently by listening Radios and reading news web sites. The local media is not only for news but for civic education and sometimes for entertainment and business promotion. Silencing them will be another setback, catastrophic indeed. Somalis need the protection and support of international community in this area more than anything else. Somali Journalist are killed at will, with impunity. Many were already killed or injured with no single case accounted for, others run for their dear life wherever they can survive in the world – I met some of them as far as Aberdeen/Scotland. And those who are still daring to work, work under pressure, subjugation,constant threatening and fear. If something is not done as quickly as possible, they may yield to the pressure and compromise the integrity and independence of their news. I fear this is already a reality in many parts of the country including those under local administration. As the world marked the Day of the Freedom of the Press, Somali journalists received it in state of melancholy, gloom and depression. It is painful and sad moment for Somalia. Of course, your concern and condemnation of this brutality is welcome step forward. BUT WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT, SIR?

  8. Dear Mr. Matt Baugh, Thank you for standing and supporting freedom of press and rights of journalist in Somalia, it is a fact Somalia is most dangerous places in the world, however, as Somalia enters into new era, we expect some of this problems to end, as result of peace and stability, but I suggest three things.
    1. Government of Somalia should come up political commitment to a freedom of press, and commitment to protect the journalist and its civilians.
    2. Media houses,(owners of media outlets), should ensure safety of their staff; putting in place a security measures to protect their staff, assessing the scene reporting, aware of any potential risks. Etc.
    3. Journalist should sell themselves in communities they are reporting, by showing impartiality, neutral of the conflict and situation.
    I would like send my condolence to families and friends of Farhan, and countless journalists killed in Somalia May Allah grant them paradise and I applaud the brave Somali journalist for their sacrifice to their own country, despite the insecurity and risk involved.

  9. Dear Matt
    Thanks for keeping us updated on the Somali human rights situation and standing with the Somali free lances journalists who risks their life and many of them have lost it for the sake of reporting the inhuman and brutality committed by organised criminals who have no respect with life and the intelligence of the young Somali journalists. I share with you sending my deepest condolence to the families and friends of all young men and women journalists. I particularly send my condolence to the families and friends of Farhan James Abdulle who was a reporter of Radio Daljir and killed in Galkacyo. My thoughts and emotion is with these innocent young men and may allah reward him in Jenna. We shall find the perpetrators and bring them in to the justice, these can be done by putting pressure the administrations of Somali to do more in order to safe guard its people.

    1. It is very unfortunate that journalist who are mostly youth and working to inform the rest of the world about Somalia are being killed with no apparent reason. In most cases, those who kill journalist in Somalia paint them as “foreign agents” to qualify for “death”. Somalia like any other member of the global community must observe the basic tenets of human rights and freedom of expression as enshrined in the Holy Quran, classical traditions of Prophet Mohummad (peace be upon him) and international instruments.

  10. Dear Mr. Matt Baugh, first thank you so much for ur concerns of the killing, intimidation and the slaughtering of the Somali Journalists and subjugating the press freedom of Somalia.

    Since the whole world is celebrating the 18th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day May 3, and the Somali Journalists have been working in a bad environment for press freedom they were killed, injured, tortured and even jailed on the course of duty and to report one of the riskiest places for reporting.

    I am a Somali Journalist in exile living in one of the neighboring countries, and since December last year we have missed some of our great Friends working in the ground, Such as Abdisalan Xiis, from Horn Cable TV, Hassan Fantastik from Radio Shabelle, Kadaf fromer Director of Radio Somaliweyn, Ali Abdi Ahmed a radio galkayo journalist, Mahad Salat, Shabelle Reporter in Hiran, and Feysay James Abdulle.

    Some of them are still working in that situation, while others are suffering injuries inside Mogadishu and the neighboring countries like Kenya, Djibouti, and even Uganda.

    Some of those Journalist who had injured in Somalia are suffering where you office of Somalia is working- Nairobi, so please on behalf of the Somali Journalists, I am pleased to inform you to contact them to give them a tangible support.

    We are very happy to your message and to learn that UK Stands for Human rights such as Press Freedom, Democracy and rule of Law.


  11. Dear Mr. Matt Baugh, in my 1st. comment is one , but important
    mistake ( I’m sorry!). Of course Iḿ talking in case of my 3 topics about the right of “freedom of speech”.
    (And NOT speech of freedom!)
    BW , Ingo-Steven Wais, Stuttgart

  12. Dear Mr. Matt Baugh, 1st of all. i wanna thank you for yr. report.
    Fact is that didn ‘t konw (sorry!) that this state of Somalia is still
    a country.I believed that it doesn ‘t exist anymor and is ruled
    by some tripes and pirates.Any way: In. re.of press freedom
    Iḿ thinking, that this is one of 3 “musts” for Somalia
    If I had a list of “things to do” I would put on this list:1st: Education, 2nd : Free elections and 3rd.: Completely press
    freedom and speech of freedom.Otherwise maybe no future at all for this land. BW Ingo-Steven

Comments are closed.

About Matt Baugh

Matt is married to Caroline, a GP from South London specialising in pre-hospital care and tropical medicine. They have 3 small children. Matt has been working on Somalia since May…

Matt is married to Caroline, a GP from South London
specialising in pre-hospital care and tropical medicine. They have 3
small children. Matt has been working on Somalia since May 2010, when he was appointed the UK’s Senior Representative and Head of the UK’s
Somalia Office. On 2 February 2012 he was accredited as the first
British Ambassador to Somalia for 21 years. Since taking up his Somalia
appointment, he has been able to travel to Mogadishu, Hargeisa and
Garowe, and has been deeply touched by the warmth of the welcome he has received, but also the scale of the challenges that Somali people face
every day.
Matt is a career civil servant and is currently on secondment to the
Foreign Office from the UK Department for International Development. Now 37, he has spent much of his career to date dealing with conflict,
security and humanitarian issues. Since 1999 he has worked in Iraq,
Sudan, Afghanistan and the Balkans, as well as a number of major relief
operations and protracted emergencies. He also helped to set up and lead
the UK’s Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit, now the UK Stabilisation
Unit. Matt is a graduate of the UK Joint Services Command and Staff
College’s Higher Command and Staff Course (2010) and was previously
Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for International
Development (2008-9).
Away from work, Matt is an avid England rugby fan (although he
refuses to admit his own playing days are long over). He is also a keen
mountaineer and skier and, together with Caroline, was part of a team
that raced to the Magnetic North Pole in 2005. These days he is more
likely to be found teaching his children how to swim and build