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Rights Group Seeks Probe of Somali Journalist Death

A human rights group is calling on Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government to investigate the latest killing of a Somali journalist. Amnesty International says a “thorough, prompt and impartial” probe is needed into the death of Muktar Mohomed Hirabe.

Sunday, he became the fifth Somali journalist to be killed in the line of duty this year and the second director of the Shabelle radio station to be killed in the last two years. He was shot in the Bakara Market. A news editor with him was also wounded.

Benedicte Goderiaux, an Amnesty researcher in London, says the international community should take part in the investigation, “given the lack of control and lack of capacity of the Transitional Federal Government.”

Is probe possible amid conflict and insecurity?

“There are ways to obtain more information on the situation in Somalia. There are courageous, local journalists, courageous civil society activists, who continue to be in Mogadishu to testify to the world what is happening in Somalia. And it would be a failure on the part of the international community not to extend a hand to them,” she says.

Amnesty has called on all parties in the conflict to end attacks on journalists. Tuesday, June 9th, the International Contact Group on Somalia meets in Rome.

“The international community and the International Contact Group have a responsibility to place the protection of civilians, including journalists and civic society activists, at the center of their efforts on Somalia. And one of the issues, which is very, very clear in Somalia, is that there has been total impunity in the past 20 years for war crimes and other human rights abuses,” she says.

Goderiaux says the international community must “adopt concrete measures to make accountable those who target civilians. Without steps toward accountability, the situation in Somalia will never improve.”

State of the Somali media

“The past two years have been extremely deadly. Journalists have been attacked by all parties to the conflict. In the previous transitional federal government, journalists had been arrested and detained in arbitrary conditions. Wherever armed groups control a territory they put strong restrictions on the freedom of journalists to carry out their work, “she says.

She adds, “Somalia is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.”