The United Nations envoy to Somali and an independent human rights expert have urged authorities in the East African country to investigate the brutal murder of a local radio journalist, the latest incident of violence against media workers there.
According to media reports, Abdihared Osman Adan, a newscaster with Radio Shabelle in the country’s capital of Mogadishu, was gunned down on 18 January by a group of unidentified armed men as he left his home to broadcast the morning news.
“The targeted killing of journalists and media workers in Somalia and the continuing impunity for these cases has been a long-standing concern,” the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari, said in a news release.
Mr. Adan is the latest victim of media-related violence in Somalia where at least 10 journalists and media workers have been killed since 2012.
In addition, reporters working for Radio Shabelle have been a frequent target of violence with Mr. Adan being the ninth journalist from the radio station to be killed since 2007. Most recently, on 24 May 2012, Mr. Adan’s colleague, Ahmed Addow Anshur, was shot by unidentified gunmen after receiving death threats for his reports on corruption.
Last November, the spate of killings prompted Somali President Hassan Sheikh to delegate Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon with the role of instituting a Task Force aimed at bringing those responsible for the murders to justice.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine P. Mahiga, urged the Task Force to expedite its investigative work while calling for a greater Government role in stopping the series of “heinous killings targeting the Somali media community.”
“It’s deplorable that the perpetrators continue to enjoy impunity, while the Somali media community continues to be targeted,” Mr. Mahiga declared.
“Every violent attack against the media is an attack against transparent governance,” he continued, adding that freedom of expression was “guaranteed under Somalia’s provisional constitution as well as Somalia’s international commitments.”
Turning his attention to related human rights issues affecting the Horn of Africa nation, Mr. Bari also condemned the Government’s recent execution of two soldiers, Jamal Ahmed Alqadir and Abdi Isman Ali Magan.
Both men had been sentenced to death by a military court in September 2011 for a series of crimes, including murder and rape. They were shot on 16 January.
“The executions raise concern in relation to the level of compliance of military justice in Somalia with international fair trial standards,” warned Mr. Bari, while calling on the Government to renew a moratorium on the death penalty which had been in effect prior to the current administration’s mandate.
The executions in Somalia diverge from the growing trend of countries who have acknowledged the inhumane nature of the death penalty. In late December last year, the UN General Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty by a recorded vote of 111 in favour to 41 against, with 34 abstentions.
In it, the Assembly expressed its deep concern about the application of the death penalty, and called on States to respect international standards providing safeguards guaranteeing the protection of the rights of persons facing the death penalty.
There are currently 150 countries around the world that have abolished capital punishment or have instituted a moratorium on the practice.