MOGADISHU, Somalia, 2 November 2021 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and its partner, Somali Media Association (SOMA), jointly called for an end to violence against Somali journalists and for the perpetrators of crimes against journalists and media workers, and recalled the international community to play its role in protecting media freedom in Somalia.
On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Criminal Justice (IDEI), SJS and SOMA today released their statistics on the number of journalists killed in Somalia over the past five years. Since February 2017, 12 journalists have been killed in Somalia — three in 2017; four in 2018; two in 2019; two in 2020; and a 2021 – making the country one of the most dangerous places for journalists worldwide. For the seventh year in a row, Somalia has retained the ugly world title of impunity for crimes against journalists when journalists’ killers roam free.
All the journalists killed practiced their noble profession by covering stories that carry bitter truths that their killers did not want to be revealed.
Among the worst unsolved cases is a Somali police officer who shot dead a 19-year-old Abdirizak Qasim Iman who was on his way back from a normal mission at SIMAD University in Mogadishu when he was shot in the head by police on July 26, 2018. Abdirizak’s bajaj stopped , a three-wheeled rickshaw wax and then shot him in the head resulting in Abdirizak’s death. Today, three years later, the assassination of Abdirizak is still unsolved because the killer’s police have not yet been arrested while, according to government sources, he remains on the state payroll.
On March 1, 2021, gunmen shot and killed independent journalist Jamal Farah Adan in the Puntland-controlled part of Galkayo, Mudug region. Al-Shabaab had claimed responsibility for the killings. A promise from the authorities in Puntland to investigate and arrest the perpetrators was not carried out despite the media reporting on suspected arrests.
In September last year, Somalia’s prosecutors announced a little known about the appointment of “a special prosecutor” for crimes against journalists and promised to launch investigations into journalists killed in the country, which is still the highest in Africa. SJS investigations show that no single prosecution related to journalists’ killers has taken place since the appointment of this special prosecutor. On the contrary, federal and regional officials have waged their war against journalists and media houses.
More than 60 journalists were arrested from January to October 2021. The majority of these arrests were arbitrary detentions by the police or the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) which took place in Mogadishu, Puntland, Jubbaland, Galmudug and Somaliland. Three reporters were physically assaulted and injured including gunfire and three others were beaten. Five media houses raided during this period. Dozens of others were harassed and even denied access to information in Mogadishu and in the regional states.
SJS and SOMA remind the international community not to fail in their role in protecting media freedom and the human rights of journalists. The international community can not only be a spectator to the serious violations of media freedom and human rights. They must re-evaluate its liability mechanisms and ensure that offenders do not escape justice.
“Our common call today aims to honor and remember all our killed colleagues while serving as a strong reminder that justice for all fallen journalists depends on the safety of the living journalists. Holding the perpetrators accountable would send a strong message to the criminals that they will one day be punished for their crimes against journalists, says Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, general secretary of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS).
“We remind the federal and regional authorities in Somalia of their responsibility to end the impunity that has flourished in the country and to ensure that the victims and their families receive justice. We want security. We want protection so that we can continue “our journalistic work without fear. Impunity for crimes against journalists must end now,” added Mr. Moomin.
“It is a sad reality that the families of our colleagues killed in the service are seeking justice, but unfortunately our government does not want to ensure that this happens. We know that the perpetrators include officials but denying victims justice is more terrible than anything else. “We also demand security and protection for media workers,” said Mohamed Osman Makaran, secretary general of the Somali Media Association (SOMA).