The African Freedom for Expression Exchange (AFEX) is deeply concerned about the recent spate of freedom of expression (FOE) violations in Somalia.
Within the past one week, (September 18-23, 2018) at least three serious incidents have been reported including the killing of Abdirisak Said Osman, a journalist who used to work with Radio Codka Nabada (Voice of Peace).
According to Human Rights Journalists (HRJ), a local human rights organisation in Somalia, unknown assailants on September 18, 2018 stabbed Osman in the back and on the chest with daggers. The journalist was on his way home when the incident happened around 23:00. Osman died the following day (September 19) at the Galkaio hospital where he was rushed to by some passersby. The reason behind Osman’s attack is unknown and the police are yet to arrest the perpetrators of this gruesome act.
This is the second journalist to be killed in Somalia this year. Barely two months ago, a young journalist, Abdirisak Qasim was shot dead by a policeman at a security checkpoint in Mogadishu. Qasim was working with SBS TV before his untimely death. The incident which occurred on July 26, has received no redress and the culprit continues to enjoy impunity.
Again, security officials arbitrarily arrested a TV journalist with Universal TV, Mohamed Abdiwali Tohow on September 22 in Dhusomareb town, capital city of Galmudug State. Tohow was invited to the headquarters of the Galmudug Intelligence and Security Agency via a phone call and detained upon arrival without any explanation.
As if these barbaric acts by security agents against journalists were not serious enough, a police officer hurled stones at a group of journalists who had been invited by the deputy commander of Galkaio Police Department of Puntland, Mohamed Ali, for a press conference. While some of the victims came out with minor bruises, one of them, Mohamed Ali Siyad, who is the director of Radio Gaalkacyo, was severely injured in the unprovoked attack.
Siyad was immediately taken to hospital to seek medical attention. AFEX is disappointed in the leadership of the security agencies in Somalia for blatantly ignoring these attacks perpetrated against journalists by their officers.. It is sad to note that even in instances where the perpetrators were clearly identified, the police did nothing to ensure justice for the attacked journalists.
AFEX calls upon the authorities of the various security agencies in the country to, as a matter of urgency, revisit these incidents and ensure that the violators are severely punished. Impunity for crimes against journalists will only embolden the attackers to carry out more attacks, which will be dangerous for Somalia’s FOE environment.
The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) joins HRJ to condemn these acts of barbarism against press freedom and FOE rights in Somalia and call on the police to bring the culprits to book.