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Appointment of Special Prosecutor is a significant step to end impunity of crimes committed against journalists, says NUSOJ

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The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) welcomes the appointment of a Special Prosecutor for journalists’ killings to conduct a full investigation of the murders of journalists in Somalia to end the impunity of unpunished crimes committed against journalists. 

The decision of the Attorney General Suleyman Mohamud in appointing the Special Prosecutor is to execute the order of the Banadir (Mogadishu) Regional Court, which issued favourable verdict after NUSOJ petitioned to the Court in May 2020 about the endless killings of journalists and lack of justice for victim journalists and their families. 

“This declaration by the Attorney General is a significant step in the right direction to put an end to this scourge of impunity of crimes committed against Somali journalists. We believe that this appointment is in line with our concerns and requirements by the Court. We are very proud to have taken this bold action against journalists’ killers” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.  

For three decades, true justice has never been done to appease the hearts and comfort families of killed journalists who have long suffered injustice, and NUSOJ has all along insisted that peace cannot be achieved without justice when Somalia has earned the bad name as the most deadly country for journalists in Sub-Sahara Africa in the past 20 years. 

Attorney General Suleyman Mohamud said: “Pursuant to the order of the Banadir Regional Court referred to as MGB / XG / 02/2020, issued on 21 May 2020, regarding the investigation into the killings of journalists in the country, the Attorney General has appointed a special Prosecutor to investigate. , and follow up on the killings of journalists to bring to justice those who organized, planned and carried out the killings of journalists…… In accordance with Somali law and international law, the Office of the Attorney General guarantees the safety of witnesses which will be strictly observed.”

“Impunity has fuelled a cycle of unceasing violence against journalists in almost all regions of Somalia. It is important to determine the responsibilities of each actor in these heinous crimes, and we urge the Special Prosecutor to live up to the trust placed in him,” added Osman. 

As the prime initiator of this campaign for justice and the fight against impunity, NUSOJ will advocate for speedy, credible and trustworthy investigations to deliver justice for victim journalists and their families. 

On 21 May 2020, Banadir Regional Court has for the first time issued a court order that directed the Attorney General Office (AGO) to urgently commence investigations into the killings of journalists to confront impunity and to bring the perpetrators before the court. 

The court order reads as follows: “In reference to the letter dated 20 May 2020 from the National Union of Somali Journalists whose subject was a request to take action against impunity of journalists’ killings, it is therefore ordered the Office of Attorney General to conduct urgent investigation as per attached letter, and the results of the investigation must be brought before Banadir Regional Court”.

In its application to Banadir Regional Court, NUSOJ stated that assassinations of journalists are not only violations of international human rights law but more pertinently constitute egregious and recurrent violations of article 13 (right to life) and article 18 (freedom of expression and opinion) of the provisional constitution of Somalia.

The union further underlined in its application that investigations of deadly attacks on journalists require particular sensitivity and expertise to ensure that the link between the crime and the journalist’s professional activities is uncovered and taken into account, and the investigating authorities must not overly rush to dismiss the possibility of such a link.