March 29, 2013 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Disquiet about death penalty for man convicted of journalist’s murder

Reporters Without Borders deplores the death sentence that a military court passed yesterday on a man found guilty of radio journalist Hassan Yusuf Absuge’s murder last September in Mogadishu. “It is not up to us to decide the nature or severity of the sentences imposed on those convicted of murdering journalists, but we cannot regard the application of the death penalty as a victory,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We hail the measures taken by the authorities to identify and punish journalists’ killers, and thereby end the vicious circle of impunity that has gone on for too long. But taking people’s lives by applying penalties that violate the most fundamental human rights is unacceptable.” The death penalty was passed on Adan Sheikh Abdi Sheikh Hussein, a member of the Islamist militia Al-Shabaab, who confessed to Absuge’s murder in the hope of receiving a less severe punishment. Employed by Radio Mantaa, Absuge was gunned down as he left the station on 21 September after covering a suicide bombing the day before that had killed around 10 people including three fellow journalists. The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), the Reporters Without Borders partner organization in Somalia, released a report last November condemning the impunity enjoyed by the enemies of news and information and reporting that 44 journalists had been killed in Somalia since 2007. A total of 18 journalists were killed in Somali in 2012 alone, which was the deadliest year for media personnel in the country’s history. Last month, the government offered a reward of 50,000 dollars (37,500 euros) for information leading to the arrest of anyone who had murdered a journalist. Yesterday’s conviction of Hussein and the arrests of three people suspected of the murders of the journalists Mohamed Mohamud Turyare and Abdihared Osman Adan suggest that the authorities really are determined to end the impunity. Photo : members of the Islamist militia Al-Shabaab (Mohamed Dahir / AFP)