21 February 2014

Somalia Honours Fallen Journalists On World Radio Day

Mogadishu — The Somali Ministry of Information recognised World Radio Day last week with a ceremony commemorating journalists killed in Somalia in recent years.

Although there were fewer journalists killed in Somalia in 2013 compared with an all-time high of 18 in 2012, according to media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the country still ranks as one of the most difficult places in the world for journalists to work.

At the event to honour World Radio Day on February 13th, the Ministry of Information unveiled a large billboard featuring photographs and names of 38 journalists killed in Somalia and the slogan, "Stop the illegal killings!!!"

The event was attended by Somali and foreign journalists, musicians, and the new Minister of Information, Mustaf Ali Duhulow.

Somali journalist Abdinasir Dahir Sabriye, 27, said his older brother Abdisatar, a reporter for state-owned Radio Mogadishu, was killed in a suicide bombing at the Village Restaurant in Mogadishu in September 2012.

But two years after Abdisatar's murder, those behind the attack have still not been brought to justice.

Sabriye said those who kill journalists want to invoke fear among reporters in order to silence them. But for him, the opposite proved true.

"The reason that pushed me to become a journalist after my brother's death was to show those who kill journalists to instil fear that I am ready to die for the same cause my brother was murdered for, which is telling the truth and reporting about reality," Sabriye told Sabahi.

Addressing the climate of impunity:

Although dozens of journalists have been killed in Somalia in recent years, many of the culprits have not been brought before the courts.

Minister of Information Mustaf Ali Duhulow told Sabahi the government has made strides to address the issue of impunity.

"The efforts of national security agencies are ongoing and they are ready day and night to protect Somali citizens including journalists and others," Duhulow said. "The number of reporters killed in 2013 were fewer than those killed in 2012 and we hope no other murderer escapes justice."

Even though many criminals are still at large, they are being investigated and will be brought to justice, he said.

Duhulow said the government was troubled about the problems Somali journalists face, and at the same time acknowledges the important contributions an independent media can make to the public.

Mohamed Ibrahim, secretary general of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), said the memorial event for fallen journalists was appreciated by their close friends and other journalists in Somalia.

However Ibrahim called on the Somali government to ensure that anyone who kills a journalist be brought to justice, and said police should arrest the perpetrators in order to increase accountability and respect for the law.

"The biggest challenge facing Somali journalists is the lack of security in the country," he told Sabahi. "Although there have been a lot of recent improvements in security, it is not reliable all of the time and it is still possible for journalists to encounter harm."

Somali singer Hibo Mohamed Hudon (Hibo Nura) attended the World Radio Day event in Mogadishu, where she shared her thoughts with Sabahi about the harm being done to Somali journalists.

She said it hurts her when she hears about journalists being harmed or murdered, but one way to get past the current problems is for the Somali government to take responsibility for making the country safe.

"If the killer who murdered an innocent citizen today was arrested, one like him would not dare to kill tomorrow," she said. "Journalists are sacred, musicians are sacred, so please protect them."

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