The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has officially instituted legal proceedings at Mogadishu’s Regional Court to seek court orders for the investigations and prosecution of suspected killers of more than 50 journalists.
On Wednesday, 20 May 2020, NUSOJ presented a petition to Benadir Regional Court in which the union requested the Court to direct the Office of the Attorney General to conduct a prompt, independent and credible investigations into the merciless killings of journalists while the Attorney General Office will be required to present investigated cases to the court within three months. On Thursday, 21 May 2020, the President of the Court Abdikhadar Mohamed Hassan accepted the application and heard the submission, pending court ruling.
“We believe that Somalia cannot overcome the oppressive practices against its own journalists that have resulted the entrenchment of the culture of impunity without conducting an effective, speedy and adequate investigations to uncover the truth and seek justice for murdered journalists,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary-General. “Our sole aim is the Court and the Attorney General to try and punish the material and intellectual authors of journalists’ killings”.
In its application, 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 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.
“Through this court application, we are not only challenging impunity but we also want to advance simultaneously the road to justice and the road to the clarification of the truth, to which the victim journalists and their families and Somali people as a whole are entitled” added Osman.
A prompt response by the judicial authorities in investigating and prosecuting suspected killers of journalists is essential in ensuring public confidence in the maintenance of the rule of law and in preventing any tolerance of unlawful acts. Somalis have the inalienable right to know the truth of what happened, as well as the reasons and circumstances in which aberrant crimes such as killings of journalists were committed.
NUSOJ believes that a strong and unequivocal message must be sent that the judiciary will not tolerate attacks against journalists who continue to bear the brunt of impunity, which represents a double injustice to the victims of crimes of violence and undermines the rule of law.