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IFEX members call for UN intervention after another journalist killed

Radio journalist Ali Ahmed Abdi (right) is the third journalist to be killed this year in Somalia
Radio journalist Ali Ahmed Abdi (right) is the third journalist to be killed this year in Somalia

NUSOJ

So far this year, a journalist has been killed each month in Somalia. And with one of the worst impunity records worldwide, it is likely the murderers will walk free, say the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and other IFEX members, which are calling for urgent UN intervention.

The latest victim was radio journalist Ali Ahmed Abdi, 26, who was gunned down in Galkayo, in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland on 4 March.

Abdi worked as the programming head for Radio Galkayo for three years but had resigned recently to pursue higher education, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). He also wrote for the pro-government news website Puntlandi.

He had been campaigning for justice for journalists after a woman colleague at Radio Galkayo, Horriyo Abdulkadir, was fatally wounded in the same town last September, reports NUSOJ.

Local journalists also told CPJ that they suspected Abdi was targeted by members of the al-Shabaab insurgency because of his affiliation with Radio Galkayo and Puntlandi. "He contacted me a week before and told me he feared for his life," a colleague told CPJ.

All parties to the conflict in Somalia have targeted journalists and put restrictions on the right to free expression. At least 30 journalists have been killed since 2007, according to NUSOJ, making Somalia the most dangerous country in Africa to work as a journalist.

On 28 February 2012, two men repeatedly shot Abukar Hassan Mohamoud, the former Radio Somaliweyn manager, in Mogadishu, killing him instantly. And Shabelle Media Network manager Hassan Osman Abdi was shot by five unidentified gunman outside his Mogadishu home on 28 January.

Although Transitional Federal Government (TFG) officials have promised to investigate the killings, no one has been held to account, say NUSOJ and other IFEX members.

"If the TFG and its international partners are serious about protecting free speech and media freedoms, they need to tackle Somalia's culture of impunity," Human Rights Watch said.

IFEX members have been trying for years to get the international community to take steps to protect journalists and combat impunity. At the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week, NUSOJ joined the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to call on the UN to establish a commission of inquiry to document serious international crimes committed in Somalia and recommend measures to approve accountability.

The murders have put in doubt the recent claims by high-profile participants at a London conference last month. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron , U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed emphasised the need for journalists to be able to work freely in Somalia, and the national justice system to be rebuilt. But they failed to propose specific measures to promote accountability for human rights abuses, reports Human Rights Watch.

Somalia has been wracked by civil war since the ouster of Mohamed Siad Barre, the former dictator, in 1991. Al-Shabaab, a militant group linked to al-Qaeda, controls most of southern and central Somalia and has been fighting the President's administration in the capital, Mogadishu, in a bid to establish an Islamic state.

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