Thursday, 21 February 2013

DCMF welcomes Somali government's efforts to combat impunity

The Somali government has offered a reward worth $50,000 to anyone who provides information for the conviction of journalist killers
Thu, 21/02/2013

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Journalists in Somalia protesting against restrictions on media freedom (AFP)

The Somali government’s offer of a $50,000 (37,000 euro) reward for information leading to the "successful conviction of a journalist killer" has met with a positive reaction from local journalists who are hoping that the monetary compensation might tempt witnesses and others with information to come forward to the authorities.

Last year was the deadliest year in history for journalists in Somalia and 18 members of the media were killed.

Prime Minister, Abdi Farah Shirdon made the “pledge for justice for slain Somali journalists,” confirming the reward in a Twitter message which read: “One journalist killed is one journalist too many.”

"Judicial reform is at the heart of the government's efforts to ensure killers of journalists are brought to justice," he added.

Secretary general of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), Mohamed Ibrahim told Doha Centre for Media Freedom that he is hopeful that the government’s recent actions will prove to be an indication of their commitment to stamping out impunity in the country.

“We think that this reward, besides what the government is going to do, might make it easier for individuals who have information which might lead to the journalists’ killers being caught to come forward for the reward and expose the criminals. If this is implemented properly it would mean the end of the era of impunity,” he said.

“The government’s commitment to combatting impunity can be learned by how quickly they take action to have a negative impact on the journalists’ killers,” noted Ibrahim, adding “sure, it is too little too late, but it could still help, if urgent government actions are taken.”

Ibrahim explained that journalists had welcomed the announcement and were hopeful that it might lead to a number of criminals responsible for murdering journalists being brought to justice.

However, he added that the journalistic community is still awaiting tangible results: “I think, for now the thing being waited for is the transformation of commitments into action.”

DCMF welcomes developments

DCMF joined NUSOJ in welcoming the Somali government’s recent commitment to stamping out impunity in their country. The centre hopes that offering this reward for assistance in bringing journalist killers to justice will lead to convictions, helping the government set a precedent and deter others from targeting members of the media.

We hope that this announcement is followed by concrete and thorough investigations and action in the large number of ongoing cases in Somalia.

Journalists in Somalia face some of the most difficult conditions in the world, and last year was the deadliest year in the country’s history for members of the media. It is of the utmost important that journalists feel that the government is taking steps to ensure that the ongoing deadly campaign against the media will not be tolerated and that the authorities are committed to improving their safety and security.

While this offer of a reward is a positive development, much more needs to be done to combat impunity in Somalia, and DCMF looks forward to witnessing further developments in terms of journalists’ protection there.

Source: AFP, DCMF

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