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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on Somalia’s local and federal authorities to do what is necessary to identify and arrest those who murdered a reporter on the evening of 16 February, and to move quickly to combat impunity and step up security for journalists in what is Africa’s deadliest country for the media.

Abdulwali Ali Hassan, also known as “Online,” a reporter for Mogadishu-based Kulmiye Radio and for Universal TV, a Somali TV channel based in London, was shot several times by gunmen as he was returning to his home in Afgoye, about 30 km west of the capital.

In a statement, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) said Hassan had been receiving threatening calls in connection with his coverage of Somali army operations against the Jihadi rebel group Al-Shabaab. No one has so far claimed his murder but the way it was carried out “resembles operations” by Al-Shabaab, NUSOJ said.

Abdulwali Ali Hassan is the first journalist killed in Somalia in 2020. A total of 50 journalists have been killed in the country over the last 10 years, three of them last year.

“We firmly condemn this latest murder of a journalist in Somalia and we call for a response from the authorities that is appropriate to the level of the carnage to which media personnel are being subjected in this country,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa bureau. “As long as impunity is the rule and no significant measure is taken to protect journalists, they will continue to be exposed and Somalia will probably continue to be Africa’s deadliest country for the media. A thorough investigation leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for this murder is essential, as is the creation of a dedicated mechanism for securing and protecting journalists, our paramount wish in Somalia.”

Investigations into murders of journalists leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible are still very rare in Somalia despite recent efforts to end impunity.  The policeman who fatally shot SBScameraman Abdirisak Qasim Iman in Mogadishu in July 2018 was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison. RSF continues to call on the authorities to make every effort to arrest him so that he serves his sentence. Two soldiers were also arrested and discharged from the army for tying up two journalists and leaving them in the sun because they had been doing street interviews.

Somalia is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

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