REQUEST FOR ACTION: SOMALIA

PEN International is seeking support on behalf of Somalia in time for the UN's Universal Periodic Review. This is a rare chance to help make Somalia safer for our fellow writers and journalists.

Somalia’s ongoing conflict has made it the most dangerous country for journalists in Africa, and one of the most dangerous in the world. Reporters work with the constant threat of intimidation by all parties to the conflict, including arbitrary detention, kidnapping, death threats, torture and targeted killings. Violence has soared in the last two years, with members of the militant Islamist groups Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam waging a terror campaign against the local press. Nine journalists were killed in 2009 and three in 2010, while countless others were otherwise threatened or attacked, with no means of bringing perpetrators to justice. Many private media houses have closed down or been taken over. The violence shows no sign of abating and many journalists have had to flee the country or go into hiding: as many as 90 journalists are thought to have gone into exile in the last two years.

From May 2011 2 - 13, Somalia’s human rights record will come under review for the first time under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism of the United Nations (UN). This is a unique opportunity for PEN to raise its concerns about attacks on journalists in Somalia, and it is essential that as many PEN members as possible take action to ensure that our voice is heard within the UN.

In preparation for the coming review, in October 2010 the Somali-Speaking Centre of PEN International filed a report to the UN expressing its concerns relating to freedom of expression in Somalia, including the semi-autonomous states of Puntland and Somaliland. Download the report here.

Our request is for you to write to your country’s representative in Geneva to ask that their delegation puts forward PEN’s recommendations during the UN’s review of Somalia, using this sample letter. You may also wish to forward the Somali-Speaking PEN Centre’s report to the delegations in Geneva to support your request.

To find the contact details of the representative of your country to the United Nations in Geneva, click here.

Sign the petition below to show your support. PEN Center USA will send the letter and your signatures to the UN before Thursday, April 21, 2011.

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