Somalia appoints special prosecutor for crimes against journalists

Somalia’s Attorney-General has appointed a special prosecutor for crimes against journalists in the Horn of Africa country.

Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed, director of communications in the Office of the President, said that the office of the Special Prosecutor will oversee justice for journalists and media practitioners targeted for performing their professional duties.

“This landmark decision has been reached after wide consultations with lawyers and media advocacy organizations as part of the fulfillment of the pledge to end impunity against those violating Press Freedom in Somalia,” Ahmed said in a statement issued on Thursday.

He said he has had regular conversations and dialogue with the media and civil society stakeholders prior to the Attorney General’s initiative to establish this office.

“The newly named Special Prosecutor will ensure injustices are addressed to uphold media safety and freedom in Somalia,” said Ahmed.

Over the past three years, the Horn of African nation has consistently recorded the highest number of journalists killed in Africa, accounting for half of all the journalists killed in the continent, according to the UNESCO

Yet, despite the high levels of fatalities, only 11 percent of the cases have been judicially resolved.

Ahmed said Somalia has in the past experienced unresolved cases of attacks against members of the press due to a lack of justice mechanisms for journalists.

He said the setting up of the Special Prosecutor’s office is a timely intervention that seeks to ensure Somali journalists and their families find justice against perpetrators of targeted attacks and killings aimed at Somali media professionals.

According to Ahmed, the government will continue to implement measures for a safe environment for journalists and media professionals in Somalia.

“We do firmly believe in the freedom and protection of the press, and we do trust in the willingness of the media to abide by the rule of law as they fulfill their obligations,” Ahmed added