New York, September 26, 2011–Four African Union soldiers deployed in Somalia have been suspended and returned to their home country of Burundi for potential trial after an internal investigation found them responsible for the shooting death of a Malaysian journalist this month. In a statement issued today, the African Union Mission in Somalia, or AMISOM, apologized for the shooting, which injured a second Malaysian journalist.
The troops fired on a Malaysian humanitarian aid convoy traveling to its base at the Mogadishu airport, according to witnesses cited in international news reports. Killed in the September 2 gunfire was Noramfaizul Mohd, 39, a cameraman for Malaysia’s national Bernama TV who was accompanying the humanitarian mission. Aji Saregar, 27, a camera operator for Malaysia’s TV3, was struck in the right hand by gunfire.
AMISOM’s three-paragraph statement characterized the killing as “accidental” but did not specify the soldiers’ actions or describe their level of culpability. In its statement, AMISOM said it “recommended” that Burundian authorities bring the four soldiers to trial “according to their country’s military and judicial processes.”
“The statement from AMISOM is an important first step is establishing accountability, and we now urge Burundian authorities to follow through on the mission’s recommendation,” CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes said. “The AU, for its part, must double its efforts to end indiscriminate shootings of journalists in Somalia.”
In August, CPJ reported that Farah Hassan, a logistics manager for Radio Simba in Mogadishu, was killed by gunfire that witnesses said came from an area controlled by AU forces. Human rights groups have accused AMISOM of shelling areas densely populated by civilians, The Associated Press reported.
Somalia is the most dangerous country in Africa for the press, with 35 journalists killed in direct relation to their work since 1992, according to CPJ research.