Vikes’ project in Somalia highlighted by conference, journalism training.

The Finnish Foundation for Media, Communication and Development (aka in Finnish as Vikes) took part in the main World Press Freedom Day event, 3 May, held this year in Riga, Latvia. Next year, 2016, the key WPFD event will take place in Finland.

WPFD was marked in many countries worldwide on and around the day itself. Vikes’ representatives were also in Somalia for a conference organised by the National Union of Somali Journalists, the culture and communications ministry, Relief International and by Vikes itself.

The foundation has been running a project in Somalia to bring an entire TV studio from to SNTV in Mogadishu, and train the staff on operation and maintenance of the station. Vikes is also holding training for branches of government and journalists on press freedom as well as good journalistic practices and ethics.

The three-day conference in Mogadishu looked at the role of freedom of expression in the reconstruction of Somalia. Participants included government ministers and civil servants, army officers, police and security officials, as well as chief editors from different branches of the Somali media.

The conference was covered extensively on national TV. In addition to leading Somali media freedom experts, the conference was attended by Vikes’ chairperson, Juha Rekola, and journalists Peik Johansson, Abdi Musse ja Wali Hashi sekä Abdulkadir Diesow.

Following the conference, Vikes held a journalism training course in Mogadishu for Somali women journalists. Finnish journalists Kirsi Mattila and Päivi Nikkilä took part in running the course.

The state of freedom of expression in Somalia is still highly fraught. Dozens of journalists have been killed in recent years. At the end of April, the producer of a private radio station in Baidoa, Daud Ali Omar, was shot dead at his home together with his wife. The radio station had recently agreed on a programme of cooperation with Radio Mogadishu, the state radio channel.