Somali Radio Director Gunned Down / IPI Concerned at Wave of Media Arrests in Somaliland
VIENNA, Austria, February 29, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The director of a Somali radio station shut down two years ago by Al Shabab militants was killed outside his home in Mogadishu yesterday.
Witnesses told Voice of America (VOA) that two unidentified men carrying pistols shot Abukar Hassan Kadaf early Tuesday evening as the journalist was returning home in the city's southern Wadajir district. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at a local hospital, reports said.
Kadaf ran Radio Somaliweyn until the station was reportedly looted and closed by Al Shabab in 2010. According to the BBC, Kadaf, who was also involved in local politics, had been recently planning a re-launch of Radio Somaliweyn.
Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) called the murder “another tragedy” that “continues to further undermine freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Somalia.”
A total of 27 journalists have been killed in Somalia over the last five years, according to the International Press Institute (IPI) Death Watch, making the chronically troubled state one of the most dangerous places in the world for the media.
Last month, the director of the Shabelle Radio Network was similarly gunned down in the Somali capital, IPI reported.
NUSOJ in a statement repeated “its urgent call for an Independent Commission of Enquiry into the murder of Somali journalists to address the widespread culture of impunity surrounding the death of journalists.”
IPI joins NUSOJ is vigorously condemning this latest assault on press freedom in Somalia. “We extend our deep condolences to the family and colleagues of Abukar Hassan Kadaf and call upon the Somali authorities to find those responsible for his murder,” IPI Press Freedom Manager Anthony Mills said.
Mills added that IPI was following with growing concern a wave of media arrests in Somaliland, an autonomous, self-declared state in Somalia's northwest.
The region's Subulaha News Network reported on its website on Monday that one of its journalists, Mohamed Abdirahman Ismail, had been detained, tortured, and beaten unconscious after being accused of writing a false story about illegal entry to Somaliland through the port of Lughaya.
According to the website, Ismail is recovering in the intensive care unit of a local hospital. Photo and video links provided by Subulaha appear to show the journalist in the hospital and being wheeled on a makeshift stretcher after the reported brutality.
NUSOJ earlier this week condemned the arrests of two further journalists in Somaliland, Mohamend Abdi Boosh of Ramaas.com and Hasan Omar Hassan of Ogaal newspaper on Feb. 19. The journalists, who were later released, were said to have published information considered sensitive to the Somaliland government concerning the entry of rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) troops into the autonomous region from Ethiopia.
The pair told NUSOJ they had been summoned to the office of Somaliland's Interior Ministry before being transferred to a detention centre where they were allegedly badly beaten.
The journalist association also reported that the chairman as well as the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Caalami had been arrested in the Somaliland capital of Hargeisa on Feb. 14. The editor, Mustafe Abdulkarim Ali, told NUSOJ they had been ordered to the Somaliland Justice Ministry after Caalami published a series of articles on corruption and mismanagement at the ministry. The pair was later relased on bail.
Mills said, “Somaliland's claim to being a beacon of democracy in the Horn of Africa is seriously undermined by its apparent attempts to suppress the media. Somaliland authorities must do a better job of protecting the rights of journalists.”
In January, IPI reported on the arrest and subsequent release of 21 journalists in Somaliland accused of promoting anti-government sentiment.