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Journalist killed in Somalia

Sapa-AP

Unknown gunmen have shot dead a Somali radio producer, the first journalist to be killed this year, said a Somali radio station editor.

Journalists in almost every region of Somalia commonly face harassment, blackmail and arbitrary police detention, said the National Union of Somali Journalists in November. (AFP)

Eighteen journalists were killed last year, making Somalia one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

Two gunmen shot dead Shabelle producer Abdihared Osman Aden in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, said Mohamed Bashir Hashi, the radio station's editor. Somali journalists say impunity is fueling the killings.

The National Union of Somali Journalists said in November that journalists in almost every region of the country commonly face harassment, blackmail and arbitrary police detention. In addition, criminals are hired to suppress them.

"It's an appalling murder but my message is they cannot silence us from telling the truth," Hashi said. No action has ever been taken following a case of violence against a Somali journalist, the union said in a report to mark the International Day to End Impunity on November 23, sponsored by the free expression group iFEX.

Somalia's government should implement judicial reforms that will aid free and fair trials, as well as provide judicial protection for the media and ensure that police adhere to the law, according to the report titled "Impunity: War on Somali Journalists."

Law and order
The international community can assist Somalia's federal government to put in place effective and functional public law and order, the report said. Somalia made significant strides politically last year in trying to establish its first functional government to move the country away from its failed-state status.

Somalia had not had a functioning central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a longtime dictator and turned on each other, plunging the impoverished nation into chaos.

African Union troops have helped to push Islamist forces called al-Shabab out of all Somalia's major cities, giving the newly-elected government a chance to rebuild the country.

The International Federation of Journalists said the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab insurgent group has maimed and killed journalists who do not toe their line. With Hizbul-Islam, another hardline insurgent group, they have in recent years ratcheted up pressure on radio stations, first and foremost to ascertain their authority on what goes on air and to impose Taliban-type commandments on un-Islamic music, ringtones, film and football, said the federation. – Sapa-AP

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