(Nairobi) – The new president of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, should promptly order an investigation into the killings of four journalists over a 24-hour period on September 20-21, 2012. The new government should adopt measures to provide better protections for journalists, 13 of whom have been killed this year.
“Somalia’s journalists have long topped the lists of targets by all sides during the country’s brutal civil war,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy director of the Africa division. “The new Somali president can act to end this horrific pattern by ordering prompt and serious investigations into these killings.”
In the early evening of September 20, three journalists were killed and five others wounded when two suicide bombers exploded in a popular restaurant in the Hamer Wayne district of Mogadishu, killing at least 15 people altogether. The journalists killed in the bombing were Abdisatar Daher Sabriye and Liban Ali Nur of Somali National TV and Abdirahman Yasin Ali of Radio Hamar.
On the morning of September 21 two or more gunmen fatally shot Hassan Yusuf Absuge, a renowned journalist for Radio Maanta, near its station in Yaqshiid district, Mogadishu.
A spokesman for the Islamist armed group al-Shabaab told the media that their supporters had carried out the suicide bomb attack on September 20, but claimed they did not order it. The Somali authorities reportedly announced that they would hold those responsible to account.
At least five other journalists and media workers were shot by armed men in Mogadishu this year in circumstances similar to the killing of Hassan Yusuf. The four others were killed under different circumstances.
Since the conflict escalated in 2007, Somali journalists have played a key role in investigating and reporting on abuses by all of Somalia’s warring parties. They have paid a heavy price for their efforts. Both government and opposition forceshave targeted journalists and put restrictions on the right to free expression. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 47 journalists have been killed in Somalia since 1992.
Since December 2011 alone, 13 journalists and media workers have been killed in government-controlled areas. While the former Transitional Federal Government of Somalia promised to investigate a number of these killings, no one has been prosecuted.
On August 20, 2012, the mandate of the transitional government of Somalia ended and since then a new speaker of parliament and a new president have been selected.
Governments providing support for the new Somali government should promote the right to free expression, including protecting journalists.
“Countries that are truly committed to new beginnings in Somalia should make tackling the horrific killings of journalists a priority,” Lefkow said. “Somalia’s international partners should press the new government to carry out credible investigations into these killings and offer the government help in doing so.”