Monday, July 8, 2013

Latest killing brings murder of Somali journalists this year to five



The hand of the assassin turned on Somali TV reporter Liban Abdellah Farah, whose murder in Galkayo brings the number of journalists killed in Somalia this year to five. Farah, who was killed Sunday, July 8, worked for the Somali Broadcasting Corporation and Kalsan TV, a UK-based television company.

“The sad news of Farah’s murder marks the resumption of deadly violence targeting journalists in Somalia … The lack of security for media personnel in urban areas is deplorable,” media watchdog, the Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF) said. Although not certain, RSF said his death could be linked to the reporting he was doing on campaigns for local elections in Puntland, a semi-autonomous area in Somalia.

Beth Costa, General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said, “We call on the Somali authorities to step up their efforts to bring the perpetrators of this murder and other vicious attacks against journalists in the country to swift justice. The killing of journalists in Somalia must not go unpunished.”

But unpunished they have been. According to RSF that has place Somalia as 175th out of 179 countries in the Press Freedom Index, 18 journalists were killed in 2012.

According to the Global Impunity Index of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Somalia ranks fifth globally for unsolved murders of journalists from 1992 and is the second for impunity in 2012. Although CPJ puts the number of journalists killed in 2012 at a more conservative figure of 12, rather than the 18 computed by RSF, it has not spared the country harsh criticism. CPJ said: “Given the ouster of Al-Shabaab insurgents from Mogadishu in 2011, the killings raised concern that reporters were being targeted by a widening field of politically motivated antagonists.”

Describing the climate of impunity CPJ said the Somali law enforcement authorities had sent contradictory messages by imprisoning a reporter who interviewed a woman who claimed she was raped by soldiers, while giving rewards to killers of journalists. “‘Killing a journalist does not look like a crime in the eyes of the Somali security forces and judiciary,’” CPJ quoted Abukar Albadri, director of Badri Media Productions, an independent news production company in Somalia, as saying.

Somalia is emerging from years of civil strife and anarchy. Although a new constitution was passed and Hassan Shekh Mohamud became president in 2012, law enforcement institutions have very little control within the country's borders. Freedom House, speaking of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, whose local elections Farah was said to be reporting, said, (Puntland’s President) “Farole threatened to prosecute opposition, including ‘failed politicians and so called websites and media’ for ‘supporting Puntland’s enemies.’ In November, presidential guards fired on unarmed protestors and journalists in Gardo, resulting in at least four injuries.”    

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