5 March 2012

Somalia: Young Journalist Gunned Down in Galkayo in Latest Media Killing

Reporters Without Borders is dismayed to learn that Radio Galkayo journalist Ali Ahmed Abdi was shot dead by three gunmen as he was returning home yesterday in the north-central city of Galkayo, becoming the third journalist to be killed in Somalia since the start of 2012.

The press freedom organization condemns the lack of any action on the part of the local authorities and international community in response to this unacceptable spate of murders.

"With three journalists already murdered since the start of the year, is 2012 going to be deadlier than 2009, when nine journalists were killed in connection with their work?" Reporters Without Borders asked. "What is the international community waiting for in order to rise to the challenge of this carnage?

"Media personnel are abandoned to their fate in Somalia. Alone, they face the enemies of information, who do not hesitate to eliminate them. There is an urgent need to protect them and to stop allowing the killers to run amok."

Abdi, 26, was shot several times on a street near the Guure Hotel in Is-Raac, a northern district of Galkayo, which is the capital of the Mudug region. The motive is not yet known. As well as working for Radio Galkayo, he wrote for the Somali Online website and was a member of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), a Reporters Without Borders partner organization.

He was outspoken in his criticism of violence against journalists in Somalia, especially after the September 2011 shooting attacking on his colleague, Horriyo Abdulkadir, a woman journalist working for Radio Galkayo.

His murder was preceded this year by that of Shabelle Media Network manager Hassan Osman Abdi, who was shot by five unidentified gunmen outside his Mogadishu home on 28 January, and that of Radio Somaliweyn manager Abukar Hassan Mohamoud, who was gunned down in an identical manner on 28 February. No arrests have been made in any of these three murders.

These three killings have confirmed Somalia as Africa's deadliest country for the media. According to a Reporters Without Borders tally, a total of 28 journalists have been slain since the start of 2007 - three so far in 2012, four in 2011, three in 2010, nine in 2009, one in 2008 and eight in 2007.

Reporters Without Borders and NUSOJ have been trying for years to get the international community to take steps to protect journalists and combat impunity. On 22 February, Reporters Without Borders wrote to the participants in the London conference on Somalia to ask them to create an independent international commission of enquiry into all the abuses against media personnel in Somalia.

During an event organized jointly with the Somali permanent mission to the United Nations on 3 March, coinciding with the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, NUSOJ, the International Trade Union Confederation and Reporters Without Borders criticized the present government's inability to either prevent these attacks on journalists or to investigate them and bring those responsible to justice.

Photo : Ali Ahmed Abdi (on the right)

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