Nairobi — Authorities in Somalia should rigorously investigate the killing of Abdirizak Kasim Iman, a cameraperson for the privately owned SBS TV, who was shot dead in Mogadishu on the afternoon of July 26, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Abdirizak was shot when he tried to pass through a checkpoint near a public park in Mogadishu, Peace Garden, while riding in a bajaj, a three-wheeled public transportation vehicle, according to Hassan Omar Mohammed, the journalist's brother, and Mohammed Shiil, the coordinator of the Somalia Mechanism for the Safety of Journalists, a press freedom coalition that monitors attacks on the media.
Witnesses said the police officer ordered the bajaj driver to reverse and said that he could not go beyond the checkpoint, according to Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, secretary general of the government-recognized National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), and Mohamed Shiil. CPJ was unable to determine the driver's identity or contact details.
The bajaj driver and Abdirizak argued with the police officer to let them beyond the checkpoint; during the dispute the police officer shot Abdirizak twice in the head, according to the same sources.
The journalist was then taken to Madina Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to a report by the privately owned Radio Dalsan.
Mohamed Shiil told CPJ that the police officer fled the scene after the shooting.
Hassan Omar told CPJ that the journalist's family reported the incident to police in Mogadishu the same day the journalist was shot.
Local police questioned the bajaj driver, who was unharmed in the shooting, according to Mohamed Moalimuu whose colleagues spoke with the driver.
"Somali authorities must act swiftly to investigate the killing of Abdirizak Kasim Iman, determine the motive, and bring those responsible to justice," said CPJ Africa program Coordinator Angela Quintal from Harare.
"Dozens of unsolved killings of journalists are a grave reminder of the dangers facing the press in Somalia. The police should be working to ensure the media are able to do their job without fear, not adding to the dangers they face."
At least 26 journalists in Somalia have been murdered with complete impunity over the last decade, according to CPJ research.
Mogadishu's mayor, Abdirahman Omar Osman, referred CPJ to police for comment on the status of investigations. Police Commissioner Bashir Abdi Mohamed yesterday declined to comment on the case, saying that investigations were being carried out by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).
CPJ was unable to determine where the journalist was travelling at the time he was shot.
Mohamed Shiil and Mohamed Moalimuu told CPJ that Abdirizak was going to work at his television station when he was shot. Hassan Omar Mohammed, the journalist's brother, told CPJ that the journalist was going home from work. Ismail Sheikh Khalifa, chairman of the press rights organization Human Rights Journalists (HRJ), told CPJ that the Mogadishu director of SBS TV, Mohamud Dhakane Nur, had told him that the journalist was going to work while Abdirizak's father said that the journalist was coming home from the Somali Institute of Management and Administration Development (SIMAD) University where he was a student.
Abdirizak had his camera with him at the time of the attack, according to these sources.
According to Mohamed Moalimuu, Adirizak covered current affairs for SBS TV.