The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has today welcomed the decision to convict a police officer for the murder of a TV journalist, terming the verdict a significant action against lingering problem of impunity of crimes committed against Somali journalists.
Somalia’s Court of Armed Forces issued on 1 November 2018 a verdict which found police man, Abdullahi Ahmed Nur (nicknamed Arabey), guilty of murdering journalist Abdirisak Qasim Iman, cameraman and reporter for Somali Broadcasting Service (SBS). The court sentenced the convicted killer to five (5) years of imprisonment and ordered him to give 100 camels to the family of the late journalist as a compensation. Iman was murdered on 26 July 2018.
“After many months of hard campaigning we are delighted that there will be justice for Abdirisak Qasim Iman and his family. Iman’s case has come to characterise the impunity with which some members of security forces and other powerful people conspire to indefinitely eliminate journalists,” said Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary General of NUSOJ.
The court decision was only made public on 8 July 2019 after NUSOJ, with the consent of Iman’s family, appealed for disclosure, as there has been some concerns that the fugitive killer may further abscond from justice.
The union spearheaded the campaign to have the suspected killer Abdirisak Qasim Iman faces justice, and has stated that all suspects of attacks against journalists need to be held to account, without resorting to death penalty.
NUSOJ constantly urged the senior leadership of the Federal Government of Somalia and the Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development as well as the Ministry of Internal Security to ensure the killer of Abdirisak Qasim Iman faces justice and his case does not join the long list of unresolved murders of journalists. In response, there have been series of meetings between the executive and judicial branches of the government in addressing this particular case.
“The security of Somali journalists is very important and we need to do everything in our power to protect our journalists’ well-being – so that Somali journalists can carry out their professional duties freely and without any fear. The Crimes Investigations Department has reassured us that attacks against journalists will be seriously and thoroughly investigated and confronted,” said Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed, Director of Communications of Somalia’s State House (Villa Somalia).
In seeking justice for Iman, NUSOJ appealed for the urgent intervention of UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Dr. Agnes Callamard; the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. David Kaye; and the UN the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Mr. Bahame Nyanduga.
On 29 August 2018, these UN human rights experts had jointly written to the Federal Government of Somalia and asked to “provide information about the status of the investigation into the killing of Mr. Iman by a police officer. If no such investigation has been initiated, please explain why.”
“The conviction sends a strong message to those that want to murder or victimise journalists – the same justice should now also be extended to all those others involved in murdering or attacking journalists. This is a positive precedence which will pursue” added Osman.