Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Somalia: Leading journalist murdered in Mogadishu

Source: IFEX

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is horrified to learn that an armed man in the military uniform of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) murdered a leading broadcast journalist, Abdisalan Sheik Hassan, in Mogadishu on 18 December 2011.

The alleged killer, who was armed with an AK-47, shot Hassan, widely known as "Hiis", in the head in the Hamar Jajab district at around 4:30 p.m. He was working as a Mogadishu-based stringer for Horn Cable TV, as well as a presenter of the evening news for Radio Hamar. The journalist, who was shot after getting out of his car at the gate to the Horn Cable TV office, was rushed to Madina hospital where he was pronounced dead.

"We strongly condemn the atrocious killing of Abdisalan Sheik Hassan. This murder is a massive loss for journalists and the media in Mogadishu, which is the most dangerous place in the country for Somali journalists," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

NUSOJ was informed that the slain journalist had feared for his life after receiving a series of death threats in recent weeks linked to his reporting. As fellow journalists rushed to the Madina hospital to pay their respects to their colleague, the motive for the killing remained unknown. Private radio stations stopped broadcasting programmes that were in progress to mourn and started airing a well known song entitled "Respect Journalists".

It is believed that Hassan was killed for his journalistic activity relating to disputes within the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP). Some parliamentarians within the TFP are claiming to have removed the TFP speaker from office. Hassan was the only journalist who recorded, on video, the proceedings of the meeting organised by the parliamentarians who wanted to remove the speaker. He aired the video via Horn Cable TV. Other members of parliament strongly disputed the validity of the meeting that purported to have removed the speaker from office and refused to recognise its outcome. Key areas of dispute included the number of parliamentarians present, the legitimacy of the meeting and the authority of those who convened the meeting. There are a number of people who reportedly approached Hassan to obtain a copy of the video recording in order to verify what had taken place.

Whatever the case, it is thought that the murder of the journalist is linked to his video recording and airing of the story about the attempt to remove the speaker form office. It is believed that some people wanted to prevent him from talking about what had happened.

"This murder is a fatal blow to media freedom. The TFG authorities must roundly condemn Hassan's killing, carry out a full investigation to identify and bring his killer to justice, and ensure other journalists and journalists' organisations who face threats from TFG security forces and other authorities are given adequate protection and the freedom to do their work," added Osman.

Hassan, 35, left behind three children and their mother. He is the fourth journalist killed in Mogadishu in 2011.