Two Somali journalists have been killed so far this year. The latest incident occurred on Saturday. The National Union of Somali Journalists says a Galkayo-based radio reporter was killed in that city when Puntland soldiers attacked an arms market. The journalist, Mohammed Abdullah Khalif, was apparently killed in the crossfire.
A human rights group is reacting to the incident. The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network says it’s unfortunate that Somalia continues to lose journalists in what it calls such careless incidences. Tumusiime Kabwende Deo is a spokesman for the group. From Kampala, Uganda, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.
“The situation of journalists in Somalia has not been the best in the first couple of months (of this year). Today we received reports of the second death of a journalist and a number of media houses have been harassed in the past. Generally the situation is really not good,” he says.
Regarding the journalist’s death in Galkayo, Deo says the human rights group has called on the Transitional Federal Government to take action. “We expect the transitional government to carry out a full investigation about the incident and the make sure that the perpetrators of such matters are brought to book,” he says.
As for the harassment, he says, “Our contacts from Somalia indicate that the harassment is actually done by the Transitional Federal Government forces. I think the issue here is very obvious, resulting from the fighting that has been going on in Mogadishu. And certainly you would expect that the government would not want the media to cover certain aspects regarding the conflict that has been going on.”
Asked how free the media are in Somalia, Deo says, “I wouldn’t say that the press is free per se because the incidents coming into our office really do not indicate that.”
The National Union of Somali Journalists says this is the third consecutive year that journalists or media assistants have been killed in the country.