Somalia: End Impunity for Killing of Media Workers

The Government of Somalia should ensure that thorough and impartial investigations are carried out into the shootings of media workers Mohamed Mohamud “Turyare” and Warsame Shire Awale, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) said today. They are the seventeenth and eighteenth Somali media professionals to be killed this year.

22-year-old Mr. Mohamud was a reporter and website editor for Shabelle Media Network. He was shot by unidentified gunmen on 21st October 2012 in the Hawo Tako neighborhood in the Wadajir district of Mogadishu. He was hospitalized for abdominal surgery, but his condition deteriorated during the afternoon of Saturday 27th October and he later died on Sunday 28th October at about 8.30pm. Mr. Mohamud is the fourth journalist from Shabelle Media Network to be killed this year, following Hassan Osman Abdi in January, Mahad Salad Adan in April, and in May, Ahmed Addow Anshur.

Mr. Awale was shot dead by unidentified assailants on 29th October 2012 in Mogadishu. A playwright, actor, songwriter and comedian who worked with Kulmiye News Network, Mr Awale was well-known for daring to poke fun at Al-Shabaab. He had reportedly received threats as a result of his public criticism of the militia group’s attacks on civilians.

According to figures cited by the United Nations Political Office of Somalia (UNPOS), Awale’s death brings the number of Somali media professionals killed in 2012 to eighteen and more than twenty injured. 2012 has been widely described as the deadliest year for the press in the country.

“EHAHRDP condemns all violence against journalists in Somalia and extend our condolences to the families of Mr. Mohamud and Mr. Awale,” said Hassan Shire Sheikh, Executive Director of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project. “The media plays a key role in fostering a democratic and rights-respecting society and should be protected from attack.”

Shortly after the election of Somalia’s new president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in September 2012, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution on the human rights situation in Somalia strongly condemning all attacks on journalists and emphasized ‘the need to hold perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses accountable, and to bring them to justice’. The resolution was tabled by Senegal on behalf of the African Group and backed by Somalia. At the same session, the Council also adopted a resolution on the safety of journalists. In May 2012, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights passed a resolution on freedom of expression in Somalia.

“Urgent measures must be taken to translate these regional and international initiatives into practical action inside Somalia,” said Mr Shire Sheikh. “The new government should make tackling all forms of impunity its number one priority.” EHAHRDP urges the Government of Somalia to accept, for example, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General’s repeated offer of assistance in addressing the challenge of impunity.

EHAHRDP further urges and calls upon the new Government of Somalia to:

  • Fight impunity by ensuring that impartial, thorough and timely investigations are carried out into the killings of journalists and other media workers, and that the perpetrators are held to account in prosecutions that meet international fair trial standards;
  • Enter discussions with the different media houses and media workers in Somalia on how to create an enabling and secure environment for journalists to carry out their work.

For background information, please see:

Banjul: Governments of Somalia and Ethiopia Should Respect ACHPR Resolutions, 3rd May 2012: https://defenddefenders.org/2012/05/banjul-governments-of-somalia-and-ethiopia-should-respect-achpr-resolutions/

Accountability for Attacks on Radio Shabelle and Other Media Workers in Somalia, 3rd February 2012: https://defenddefenders.org/2012/02/re-accountability-for-attacks-on-radio-shabelle-and-other-media-workers-in-somalia/

Geneva: Investigate and Ensure Accountability for War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in Somalia, 29th September 2011: https://defenddefenders.org/2011/09/geneva-investigate-and-ensure-accountability-for-war-crimes-and-crimes-against-humanity-in-somalia/

Somalia: Lack of Civilian Protection and Accountability a Key Concern as Contact Group Meet, 2nd June 2011: https://defenddefenders.org/2011/06/somalia-lack-of-civilian-protection-and-accountability-a-key-concern-as-contact-group/

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