Somalia Must End Impunity for Killing of Media Workers

Press Release
August 13, 2012

Somalia Must End Impunity for Killing of Media Workers

Two Journalists Killed Over Weekend Brings Total Since December to Ten

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, 212-633-4150, @strimel

(New York) -- Amnesty International today called on Somali authorities and the international community to end impunity for the killing of media workers in the country. The statement follows the deaths of two journalists in separate incidents in the capital Mogadishu this past weekend.

Yusif Ali Osman, a former veteran journalist and official in Somalia's Ministry of Information, was shot dead in the Dharkenley district of the capital on Sunday morning by two young men reported to have been wearing school uniforms. Another journalist, Mohamoud Ali Keyre (Buneyste), was reportedly killed by stray bullets during a fight between government troops in the Yaqshid district of the city that same afternoon.

"Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) should urgently open and complete thorough investigations into the killings of all journalists and media workers in the country, bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure that it responds to the continuing threats on journalists' lives," said Bénédicte Goderiaux, Somalia researcher for Amnesty International.

Yesterday's deaths bring the toll of media workers killed in Somalia since December 2011 to ten. Not a single person has been brought to justice for the killings of journalists in Somalia this year, nor in previous years.

"The TFG has shown no willingness to address the killings," said Goderiaux. "The international community must establish an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate and document crimes under international law committed in Somalia, including the killings of journalists."

Osman used to be the director of the government-run radio station Radio Mogadishu before beginning at the Ministry of Information. The Islamist armed group al-Shabab has reportedly claimed responsibility for his death, calling him an enemy working for the TFG.

The killing of Keyre comes four days after members of the TFG signed the National Security and Stabilization Plan, which among other issues is meant to address the lack of discipline and chain-of-command in the TFG security forces. Keyre used to work for radio station Radio Hamar (Voice of Democracy) but in recent years worked for Somali websites based in Kenya's capital Nairobi.

Their deaths follow a string of other recent killings of media workers in Somalia.

Earlier this month, popular comedian AbdiJeylaniMalaq ‘Marshale’ was also shot dead by two men armed with pistols as he entered his home in the Waberi district of Mogadishu. Although the motive for his killing remains unclear, Malaq ‘Marshale’ had produced and broadcasted satirical programs for the Somali Radio Kulmiye and Universal TV. He had also previously received death threats from al-Shabab.

On August 1, the National Constituent Assembly approved a draft of the provisional constitution, one of the steps agreed on between transitional authorities and the international community to end the transition period in Somalia.

Amnesty International urges the current and future Somali authorities to ensure that through this period, the right to life, the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press become a reality.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.