Somalia seeks justice for slain journalists

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Nairobi - Somalia's government has offered a $50 000 reward for information leading to the “successful conviction of a journalist killer”, as the country reels from a spate of murders of media workers.

Mohamed Ibrahim, journalist union chief in the war-torn nation, welcomed the “pledge for justice for slain Somali journalists” following the announcement of the reward by Somalia's Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon.

At least 18 media workers were killed last year - double the worst year on record and second only to war-torn Syria - but no one has faced justice for the killings.

“One journalist killed is one journalist too many,” Shirdon said in a message on his Twitter account, confirming the reward.

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

Somalia's journalists have suffered a string of attacks, including assassinations or bomb blasts often blamed on al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab insurgents.

Other murders are also believed to be linked to struggles within the multiple factions in power.

Ibrahim said he welcomed Shirdon's “assurances for justice and respect for the freedom of the press”, including support for a fair appeal hearing of a journalist jailed for one year for reporting on rampant sexual violence.

Journalist Abdiaziz Abdinuur and a woman he interviewed who said she was raped by security forces were jailed earlier this month for a year for insulting state institutions.

Lawyers have appealed Abdinuur's sentencing, which sparked widespread criticism including from United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, who said he was “deeply disappointed”.

Somalia has been ravaged by conflict since 1991, but a new UN-backed government took power in September.

Many have said the new government offers the most serious hope for stability since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre more than two decades ago. - Sapa-AFP


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