PARIS (Sh.M.Network)-The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom on Friday condemned the murder of a Somali journalist and urged local authorities to ensure that those responsible for crimes against media professionals are punished for their actions.
“I am appalled by news of the violent death of Mohamud Ali Keyre,” the Executive Director of the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, said in a news release issued Friday.
“It is essential that the authorities do all in their power to stem the violence that is claiming so many civilian lives in Somalia, including a shocking number of media workers,” Bokova stressed.
She also urged Somali authorities to implement measures improving the safety of media personnel across the country, pointing out that press freedom was an intrinsic to Somalia’s growth into a full-fledged democracy.
“Journalists must be able to keep the public informed without fearing for their lives. A free and independent press is an essential contribution to dialogue and national reconciliation in Somalia. It is also necessary to democracy and the rule of law,” she added.
Mohamud Ali Keyre was killed on 12 August in capital Mogadishu by a single bullet to the head. The 23-year-old reporter was an employee of the website horyaalmedia.com when he was killed. He had previously worked for the Mogadishu-based radio broadcaster Voice of Democracy, before fleeing to Kenya because of threats against his life.
According to media reports, Keyre decided to return to Mogadishu after on belief that the security situation in the city had improved. Incidentally, Keyre was the eighth journalist to be killed in the Horn of African nation since the beginning of this year. UNESCO says that eighteen journalists have been killed in Somalia since 2009.
Somalia had been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process in recent months, with the country’s transitional federal institutions implementing the ‘Roadmap for the End of Transition’ devised last September.
The measures to end the transition include the drafting of a new Provisional Constitution, the selection of a 275-member parliament by a group of 135 traditional Somali Elders selected by Somalia’s National Constituent Assembly (NCA), which has total of 825 elders drawn from all Somali clans, and election of a new president.
Somalia has been without a functioning government since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre’s government in 1991.Until recently, Islamist militant groups controlled large areas in southern Somalia where they enforced strict Islamic laws or Sharia.
But in recent months, Somali forces, backed by African Union peacekeepers, have managed to seize control of most regions, except some pockets that are under rebel control. However, the country still witnesses frequent bombings and militant attacks, mainly in Mogadishu.