Untamed impunity has had a great bearing on journalists and media practitioners in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) said in a groundbreaking report released today, on the eve of the International Day to End Impunity, 23 November 2012. Hostilities and threats have cultivated an environment of terror and insecurity that has slowed down independent journalism and promoted self-censorship as a form of protection.
The report, "Impunity: War on Somalia's Journalists", details the victimisation of journalists and the accompanying impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators, which have been particularly prevalent since 2007 when remnants of the Islamic Courts Union and hard-line Islamic militants, driven out of Mogadishu at the end of December 2006, started a war against the allied forces of the Transitional Federal Government and the Ethiopian army, and later against the African Union peacekeeping forces.
"The perpetrators of violence against journalists are able to escape punishment for their crimes, and, without fear of consequences, the culprits continue to carry out such acts," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
Forty-four media practitioners, all male and most of whom worked for broadcast media, were killed in Somalia between January 2007 and October 2012. Eighteen media workers were killed in the first 10 months of 2012, making this the deadliest year to practice journalism in Somalia, according to the report, which was released to observe the International Day to End Impunity as declared by the Toronto-based International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) and its affiliated organisations, including NUSOJ.
"The report of the National Union of Somali Journalists, 'Impunity: War on Somalia's Journalists', underscores the magnitude of the campaign of violence against Somali journalists and calls on the new Somali government to ensure that thorough and transparent investigations will lead to the arrest and trial of those who commit these crimes," said Etienne de Poncins, the French ambassador to Kenya and Somalia.