Rights Group: Attacks on Somalia Journalists Go Unpunished

MOGADISHU, SOMALIA — Free press advocates are calling for accountability for perpetrators of crimes against media workers as they commemorated the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

According to the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), an advocacy group working to advance media rights in the horn of the African nation, 12 journalists have been killed since February 2017, while more than 60 others were arrested from January to October 2021.

Most of the perpetrators have not been brought before the court to face charges.

SJS secretary-general Abdalla Mumin says the organization is worried about deteriorating relations between the media and the security agencies in particular.

“The cooperation between the state security forces and the media in general is nonexistent in Somalia,” Mumin said. “The Somali federal government in September last year announced [a] special prosecutor for the crimes against journalists, but this was only word of mouth, and nothing has been done to implement it in [a] tangible way.”

Hanad Ali Guled, editor of the Mogadishu-based Goobjoog media network, survived an attack in July and said he still faces threats based on his work.

He said he was attacked heading home from work in Mogadishu by assailants he suspects are linked to the government agencies. He said he continues to receive constant threats from the group.

The director of communications at Somalia’s president’s office, Abdulkadir Hashi, said in a tweet that the government will continue to speak out against anyone who obstructs the work of press in the country.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2021 Global Impunity Index, Somalia has been the world’s worst country for unsolved killings of journalists for seven consecutive years.