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Remarks by Chargé d'Affaires Shane Dixon At the Press Freedom Roundtable
October 23, 2023

Remarks by Chargé d'Affaires Shane Dixon At the Press Freedom Roundtable

As Prepared for Delivery

Good afternoon, esteemed colleagues, government representatives, members of the media community, and our international partners.

I’m honored to welcome you to this important roundtable discussion, the third in a series of engagements dedicated to the state of press freedom in Somalia.

Seeing so many dedicated stakeholders in one room is genuinely encouraging, particularly representatives from the Somali government and civil society. Your commitment, openness, and willingness to engage on this imperative topic are recognized and deeply appreciated.

I want to acknowledge that we gather here not to lecture or impose a singular perspective but to collaboratively understand and navigate existing challenges. Today’s aim is a positive, forward-looking dialogue that respects the richness of diverse experiences and insights present. Everyone in this room shares the noble goal of advancing a peaceful and prosperous Somalia.

Somalia is at a crossroads. While it grapples with many challenges, including ongoing security concerns, it is apparent that the media freedom landscape faces significant barriers. Somalia’s media professionals often find themselves stuck between their duty to inform the public and their need for self-preservation. This results in self-censorship, heightened tension between the media and the government, and, ultimately, uninformed decision-makers and citizens.

Somalia’s government also finds itself in a difficult position as it attempts to balance the war against al-Shabaab with its duty to deliver prosperity to its citizens. As some of you will recall from our previous discussions in February and May, a key message emerged. While efforts to restore peace in Somalia are paramount, these efforts should not come at the expense of silencing the media.

Today, we intend to delve deeper into the challenges confronting journalists and media outlets in Somalia. We hope that through this dialogue – facilitated by NGO International Media Support and with panelists from Somali civil society – we can identify concrete solutions to foster a more conducive environment for the press.

Our objective today is clear: to allow for a frank, constructive dialogue on the significant impediments journalists face regarding safety and protection and to chart a way forward that will enable media to fulfill its indispensable role in state-building efforts.

Finally, please allow me to pause to recognize the life of journalist Abdifatah Moallim Nur “Qeys” who was tragically killed this week in a barbaric terrorist attack. He represented the best of journalism, civil society, and Somalia, and will be sorely missed.

I sincerely thank our international partners for joining us today to demonstrate their unwavering support in championing the cause of press freedom. I thank IMS for thoughtfully organizing and leading today’s discussion. And I thank our esteemed panelists; only with your insights is charting a new course for press freedom in Somalia possible.

Thank you.