Category: Press Releases, Africa, Somalia
By: Jan Beyer, IPI Contributor

IPI calls for investigation into killing of Somali journalist

Mohamed Ibrahim Rageh 4th journalist assassinated in the country this year

Somali residents pray near the body of Mohamed Nuxurkey, a local journalist, during his burial in the capital Mogadishu on March 19, 2013. Nuxurkey and at least nine other people were killed when a car bomb exploded near the presidential palace in Somalia's capital, hitting a minibus and tea-shops along a busy road, police said. REUTERS/Ismail Taxta

By: Jan Beyer, IPI Contributor

VIENNA, April 24, 2013 – The International Press Institute (IPI) today urged authorities in Somalia to conduct a swift and comprehensive investigation into the killing of journalist Mohamed Ibrahim Rageh.

AFP reported that unidentified assailants fired lethal shots at Rageh as he returned home after work on Sunday, April 21 in Mogadishu.

Rageh, a journalist with Somali National Television and Radio Mogadishu, had only a few months ago returned to Mogadishu. According to the African Press Organization, he was among 15 journalists who resigned in 2009, after a wave of killings of journalists took place and threats by Al Shabaab militants were issued against media workers.

Reports said that he escaped Somalia in August 2009 with the help of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), seeking refuge in the Ugandan capital Kampala. Rageh was apparently one of the few journalists to return home in order to continue reporting from Somalia.  

“We offer Rageh’s family our condolences,” said IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills. “His murder shows the extent to which the security situation for journalists in Somalia remains precarious. The government must make a priority of tracking down the killers of media workers and holding them accountable before the courts. Otherwise the cycle of impunity will not be broken.”

While the Somali government has made progress in containing Islamist Al Shabaab militants, it is far from controlling the entire territory of the country, leaving pockets under the rule of extremists. And even where the Somali government seems to have gained the upper hand, the country has not reached a state of political stability.

As Reuters reported, Rageh’s death comes only one week after a coordinated and concerted attack in Somalia’s capital, involving a variety of car bombs being set off and suicide bombers attacking Mogadishu’s law courts. While Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for these terrorist acts, which killed more than 30 people, it is still unclear whether the group is also responsible for the journalist’s death.

The ongoing violence in Somalia has taken its toll on the local journalistic community.

In 2012, IPI recorded the killings of 16 journalists, making Somalia the second most dangerous place for media work trailing only war-torn Syria. This year already four reporters have died.

While the political instability in the country is responsible for a situation in which most murders remained unsolved or are not even investigated, in February this year the Somali government set up a Task Force in charge of investigating allegations of intimidation or violence against journalists.

Chaired by human rights lawyer Maryam Yusuf Sheikh Ali, the 13-member Task Force has three months to draw up a report and recommendations intended to improve the security of reporters. Members of the Task Force also include a civil society activist, a human rights campaigner, a doctor, a religious leader, distinguished police officers and a representative from the media. It is eventually expected to give way to a permanent parliamentary Human Rights Commission, reports say.