Strongly condemning the killings of a Government information official and a journalist in Somalia in separate incidents, the top United Nations political envoy for the East African nation today called for the end of the “culture of impunity” that threatens the country’s free press as it struggles to emerge from two decades of lawlessness.
“We must not allow the fundamental freedoms that a free press represents to be compromised by those willing to use violence to serve their personal agendas,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Augustine Mahiga, said in a statement from the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), which he also heads.
Yusuf Ali Osman, a veteran journalist widely known as Yusuf-Farey and who previously served as a director of Radio Mogadishu, was working as the Media Relations Director of the Somali Ministry of Information, Posts and Telecommunications. He was shot as he walked to his office in the capital, Mogadishu, on Sunday, according to media reports.
Mohamed Ali, known as Buniste and who worked for Voice of Democracy and was lately reporting for online publications, was reportedly killed by a stray bullet as he watched a soccer match.
“It was only two weeks ago that the comedian and media worker ‘Marshale’ was killed,” Mr. Mahiga said, referring to the stage name of Abdi Malaq Jeylani, who was reportedly shot to death in front of his house in Mogadishu by unknown assailants.
“It is simply unacceptable that over the course of the year justice was not served for any of the victims of these crimes,” the envoy added. “This culture of impunity must end.”
After decades of warfare, Somalia has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process, with the country’s Transitional Federal Institutions currently implementing the so-called Roadmap for the End of Transition in Somalia that spells out priority measures to be carried out before the country’s transitional governing arrangements end on 20 August.
In his statement, Mr. Mahiga reiterated UNPOS’ calls for Somalia’s Transitional Institutions to strengthen their police investigative capacity and reaffirmed that the office stands ready to assist in that effort.
“The UN has called repeatedly on full and independent investigations of these unacceptable and cowardly acts which have made Somalia one of the most dangerous places on earth for media professionals,” he said. “This is a decisive time in the political process and the work of media needs to be protected so that the Somali people are fully informed.”