A top judge in Somalia vows to help journalists beat impunity

The head of Somalia’s top court has vowed to protect journalists from impunity, signaling the first time the judiciary is rallying to shield news people from dangers perpetrated sometimes by rogue government officials.

The revelations emerged on Thursday as the world marked the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. Bashe Yusuf Ahmed, Chief Justice and President of Somalia’s Supreme Court, spoke before an audience of journalists, reflecting on the need to protect press freedom in a country considered one of the most dangerous on the continent for journalists.

“The Supreme Court stands united with journalists, leaving no doubt of our staunch support,” he told the audience in Mogadishu.

“Perpetrators of violence against journalists will face unfaltering accountability without any exceptions.”

The ceremony was organized by the National Union of Somali Journalists (Nusoj), a local lobby for press freedom, and the African Union Transition Mission (Atmis). They highlighted the need to adhere to the African Union’s Silencing the Guns as a prerequisite for press freedom in Somalia.

In Somalia, journalists are often targeted by militant groups Al Shabaab and those seen as critical of their terror have paid the ultimate price. But rogue government officials and other state officials have also abused their powers to mistreat journalists with illegal detentions, threats or shutdowns of their outlets, according to a report by Nusoj.

In Mogadishu, the stakeholders joined the world to criticize impunity, calling for sufficient legroom to have journalists do their work without looking over their shoulders.

Nusoj displayed disturbing statistics on fate of Somali journalists.

Between 2010 and 2023, 62 journalists were killed while carrying out their journalistic duties. Additionally, 67 journalists sustained injuries between 2010 and 2013.

Many others have faced threats, intimidation, and forced exile, emphasizing the hazardous conditions faced by journalists in Somalia and featuring the urgent nature of the situation requiring immediate action.

The African Union’s Silencing the Guns in Africa Initiative was organized to bring attention to the critical importance of seeking justice and eliminating impunity for crimes committed against journalists in Somalia.

The International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists is a UN-recognized international day observed annually on 2 November.

Source: The East African

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