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Murder of media lawyer caps targeted campaign of abuse against freedom of expression

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The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is horrified by the news of the hideous murder of Advocate Mohamed Warsame Mohamed, who was among the most competent lawyers who were prepared to defend journalists and media freedom in Somalia.

Mohamed was accosted close to his residence by armed assailants, who fatally shot him dead at about 12pm local time today in Mogadishu. The security forces arrived at the scene a few minutes after the shooting. Unfortunately, the killers had already escaped by that time.

A fearless lawyer who dedicated his life and career to the struggle for a free and just Somalia, Mohamed was among the 15 lawyers that were trained by NUSOJ and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in August 2021 through the Global Media Defence Fund (GMDF). The attack bears all the hallmarks of a targeted killing, and NUSOJ urges the authorities to investigate and bring to book all the conspirators behind this most dastardly act.

“We are deeply disturbed and saddened by this brazen attack which resulted in the death of Mohamed Warsame Mohamedwho was not only our legal counsel but a committed friend in our collective struggle for a Somalia in which journalists can enjoy their freedoms and rights under the law. We call for a swift and decisive effort to find and bring the killers to justice. Investigations should go beyond finding the triggerman, to getting hold of all actors involved in this conspiracy and ensuring they face the full force of the law,” said NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman.

Mohamed was a member of Network of Media Lawyers who provide pro-bono services to journalists and news media organisations in distress, and part of NUSOJ’s Journalists Legal defence Unit (JOLED). In recent months, he has been involved in investigating cases of attacks against journalists and pursuing justice for victim journalists, especially those perpetuated by security forces attacks and Al-Shabaab against journalists.

“Mohamed’s murder highlights the ever-present threat hanging over the lives of journalists and other advocates of media freedom in this country. It is a bitter irony that Mohamed’s life was cut short by the very violence against the media he was campaigning to end. It also raises grave questions about the status of protection for journalists as their defenders become targets.” Added Osman. 

“One thing is for sure, this campaign of violence and intimidation not only targeting journalists but also brave and principled lawyers who risk their lives to provide journalists legal defence, will not dent our resolve to demand for the rights which are bestowed on us by national and international law” declared Osman.

The union categorically states that the ball is squarely in the court of the Federal Government of Somalia, which has a duty to protect and ensure the security of all people specially journalists and lawyers in its territory.