By Abdiaziz Loyal – Mogadishu, Somalia, Saturday, September 19, 2020.
The media fraternity in Somalia said, Tuesday September 8, 2020, it was delighted to welcome the good news of the appointment of a special prosecutor for crimes against press in Somalia.
The country’s Attorney General Dr. Suleiman Mohamed Mohamud announced through a press statement cited by the fraternity that the appointment would be a solution to counter engraved levels of impunity against the press in Somalia.
“In compliance with the Court order by Benadir Regional Court referred to as MGB / XG / 02/2020, issued on 21 May 2020, regarding the investigation into the killings of journalists in Somalia, the Attorney General has appointed Special Prosecutor for crimes against journalists to investigate and apprehend those who involved, planned or carried out the killings and harassment against journalists in the past,” reads the press statement from office of the Attorney General.
Through this special envoy, Dr. Suleiman said the perpetrators and attackers of media workers and press will be brought to justice to end extrajudicial killings and press harassment of Somali Journalists.
The appointment comes after a year of negotiations between Somali media associations representatives and Attorney General, having been requested during UNESCO workshop in September 2019 in the country’s capital, Mogadishu.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ’s) annual Global Impunity Index in 2019, Somalia tops the list, for the fifth year in a row, as one of the worst countries in the world at prosecuting murderers of journalists.
Because of cycles of conflict and fragility that have spanned decades, Somalia has over the years recorded one of the highest numbers of crimes against journalists in the world that go unpunished, statistics show.
The Secretary General of the Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ), Mohamed Moalimuu welcomed the appointment, adding it was long overdue. He also asked the special prosecutor to deal with long-standing impasse and unresolved cases that are under his docket.
“We want him to come up with real actions to resolve many of the standing and unresolved cases and make a change to the dire situation in which our journalists are working in. We do not want our ears to hear in the future that Somalia still is one of the first countries in the world that perpetrators who commit violence against journalists go unpunished,” Moalimuu said.
Although Farmago government has been supporting the de-criminalization of journalism and free expression through legal reform, the legal forms have been using an outdated 1964 penal code to cripple the journalists.
They include several vague and overly broad crimes like criminal defamation, offending the honor and prestige of the head of state, insulting a public officer or institution and contempt against the nation, state or flag and many others.