UN decries killing of BBC journalist, attack on private media firm in Somalia

UN decries killing of BBC journalist, attack on private media firm in Somalia

United Nations officials today condemned the killing of a BBC journalist Wednesday in Somalia as well as a recent grenade attack on the headquarters of a private media firm in the Horn of Africa country’s capital, Mogadishu.

“Such attacks on media outlets constitute a serious violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A free and independent press which does not fear any party is a main pillar of any political settlement,” said the UN Independent Expert on Somali human rights, Dr. Ghanim Alnajjar.

The 28 January grenade attack on the television, radio and multimedia operations of HornAfrik Inc., which describes itself as the first privately-owned commercial media outlet in Somalia, caused no casualties. It was followed by the shooting yesterday of the BBC's Kate Peyton, who died in a local hospital.

“The media must be allowed to perform its duties without trepidation and I call upon the perpetrators of these acts to renounce all methods of intimidation immediately,” Dr. Alnajjar said.

The UN Resident Coordinator for Somalia, Maxwell Gaylard, said, “All the political, religious and business leaders in Mogadishu need to deal with this issue urgently. Attacks on civilians and the media must stop and it is up to the people of Mogadishu to ensure that it happens. This is the only way they can garner the support and goodwill they need for the long road to peace and reconstruction.”

According to the BBC, Ms. Peyton left her bureau in Johannesburg, South Africa, to cover the arrival on 21 February of the new, transitional Somali Government from Nairobi, Kenya, after 14 years of turmoil. She was shot in the back after speaking to the Government’s advance party, it said.