February 15, 2017
Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed
President of the Republic of Somalia
Via email: [email protected]
We at the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent press freedom advocacy organization, look forward to working with your administration to improve the climate for the media in Somalia, and in particular to ensure that those who murder journalists are brought to swift and fair justice.
We were encouraged by your February 12 observation that “free media [are] vital for the revival of our nation and ensuring transparency at every level of the government.”
For the past two years, Somalia has appeared at the top of CPJ’s Global Impunity Index, which highlights countries where journalists are slain and the killers go free. At least 28 journalists have been murdered for their work with complete impunity since 2005. High rates of impunity and violence against journalists have created a highly insecure climate for the media. Dozens of journalists have been driven into exile.
An illustrative case is that of Daud Ali Omar, who worked for Radio Baidoa. In April 2015, armed men broke into Daud’s house and shot him and his wife as they slept. Al-Shabaab is suspected of being behind the attack, but no one has been apprehended. The couple had three children.
Military courts have sentenced at least three people to death in the murders of six journalists since 2015. CPJ, like the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, believes that impunity for the murder of journalists can best be addressed through fair and transparent trials before civilian courts, and without resort to the death penalty.
We are aware that Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the majority of attacks against journalists in Somalia, and we are aware of the difficulty in bringing killers to justice in the midst of the continuing battle against the group. Yet Somali journalists have told CPJ that they have been disheartened by what they see as the government’s insufficient investigations into the murder of journalists and other attacks against the news media.
A government task force set up in 2012 to investigate the murder of journalists appears to have stalled. We urge your government to revive this task force, or to develop more effective national mechanisms to address the murder of journalists Somalia.
We also call on you to ensure that the National Intelligence and Security Agency ceases harassing journalists doing their work.
In October 2016, Al-Jazeera reporter Hamza Mohamed and three colleagues were detained for two days.
We commit to working with you and your administration to accomplish our shared goals of ensuring the news media can play a vital role in reviving Somalia while “ensuring transparency at every level in government.” We look forward to discussing these priorities with you or your representative soon.
Somali Ambassador to the United Nations Awale Ali Kullane
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression Faith Pansy Tlakula
U.N. Special Envoy for Somalia Michael Keating