20 February 2013

Somalia's U.S. $50,000 Reward to Catch Journalist Killers Welcomed

The Somali government this week announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the "successful conviction of a journalist killer". Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon announced the reward on Sunday (February 17th), noting that "one journalist killed is one journalist too many".

He expressed his government's commitment to undertake judicial reform as a means of protecting journalists. The announcement follows a meeting between Prime Minister Shirdon and Somali media workers the previous day when they welcomed the Prime Minister's "assurances for justice and respect for the freedom of the press".

On Monday (February 18th), forty-five media stakeholders gathered in Mogadishu to discuss the state of the media in Mogadishu with particular focus on media law reform, security of journalists and persecution of journalists.

The consultative meeting, organized by the National Union of Somali Journalists, welcomed the Somali government's readiness "within the first three months' of its existence" to open up the existing media law of 2007 for consultation with a view to make possible improvement in line with the provisional federal constitution of Somalia.

The Union called for a "far-reaching review of the media law" to ensure it is in conformity with the Somalia's provisional constitution and respected international standards on freedom of expression and information. The meeting also called on the government to put together a committee to review the law in consultation with all concerned stakeholders and to repeal problematic provisions as well as "establish a special protection force for journalists by formally empowering it to investigate crimes against journalists and make charges."

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