Somalia: Attacks against journalists must stop

The killing of a third journalist in just two months in Mogadishu is a stark reminder of the dangers faced by media workers and activists in the Somali capital, Amnesty International said today.

Abukar Hasan Mohamud Kadaf, the former director of private radio station Somaliweyn, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday evening in front of his home in the Wadajir district of Mogadishu. He was buried on Wednesday in the capital.

He was reportedly working with a youth and peace organization after Radio Somaliweyn was raided and closed down by the al-Shabab armed group in May 2010.

He is the third journalist to be killed in a targeted attack in the last two months in Mogadishu, despite the city now being under the control of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African Union forces.

“Security will not be achieved in government-controlled areas until those who are responsible for attacks on media workers and activists are held to account,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Director for Amnesty International’s Africa programme.

“Every effort must be made to stop a re-emerging pattern of targeted killings against civil society actors. This includes conducting thorough investigations into the murders, ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice in fair trials, and re-establishing the rule of law.”

Though journalists and civil society actors have been continuously at risk in Somalia, targeted attacks against them peaked in 2007 and 2008.

At the London international conference on Somalia last week, the international community highlighted the need for journalists to operate freely and without fear. It called for action to address human rights violations and abuses and committed to focus more on supporting the Somali justice and security sectors.

“The international community should now put these commitments into practice and step up efforts to help rebuild the rule of law in Somalia. It is essential that Somali civil society actors, who continue to risk their lives, are fully consulted in ways to improve their protection,” said Michelle Kagari. Background

At least 25 Somali journalists have been killed in Somalia since 2007, and many others have been injured.

Hassan Osman Abdi, director of the Shabelle Media Network, was shot by unidentified men outside his home in the Wadajir district in January 2012 and died of his injuries.

On 18 December last year, Abdisalan Sheik Hassan, a freelance journalist for the Horn Cable TV station and Hamar radio, was shot in the head by a man wearing a government military uniform in the Hamar Jajab district in Mogadishu. He died shortly afterwards.

Though the TFG opened investigations into these last killings, and reportedly held suspects, these have not led to criminal prosecutions.

The year 2008 also saw a wave of attacks on Somali civil society actors: at least 40 Somali human rights activists and humanitarian workers were killed between January and September that year, the majority in targeted attacks. These attacks prompted many activists to flee the country.

No one has been brought to justice for any of these attacks. All parties to the conflict have threatened and attacked journalists and civil society actors, and have restricted freedom of expression.