Shooting of Somali TV reporter by elite police unit’s officers goes unpunished
A Somali TV reporter was badly wounded when two members of an elite police unit fired on him as he tried to cover the recent hotel siege in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, and yet they were released within hours. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for a full police investigation into this flagrant case of impunity.
Ahmed Omar Nur, a reporter and cameraman with M24TV, was nearly killed on 21 August when he was sent to cover the security operation carried out to end the siege at the Hayat Hotel by Al-Shabaab, a Jihadi armed group linked to Al-Qaeda. Ten minutes after he arrived, two members of the Haramcad elite police unit opened fire on him at point-blank range, shooting him in the mouth.
“Equipped with his camera and press card, Ahmed Omar Nur was determined to cover this story for the Somali public but, far from protecting him, two policemen opened fire on him and he became the latest victim of the incredible violence against journalists in Somalia,” said Sadibou Marong, the head of RSF’s West Africa bureau. “Following the release of the two police officers, we remind the authorities of their obligation to protect journalists and to conduct effective investigations in order to end the reign of impunity.”
Shooters freed, investigation closed
After being rushed to Mogadishu’s Madina Hospital, Nur underwent several long operations to extract the bullet from his jaw and was finally able to go home. Regular police arrested the two Haramcad officers on the same day as the shooting and took them to the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). But they were freed within hours after their Haramcad superiors intervened and got the CID to close the investigation before it had decided what charges to bring against them.
At Nur’s request and with his father’s support, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) – RSF’s partner organisation in Somalia – has filed a complaint with the office of the special prosecutor tasked with investigating crimes against journalists.
“We are puzzled and disturbed by this attack by elements of the security services, targeting a journalist, who was clearly identifiable by his equipment as a member of the press,” NUSOJ secretary general Omar Faruk Osman said.” This attack in broad daylight is all the more disturbing because there was no active combat at the time it happened to the journalist, who only carried a TV camera and did not pose any threat to anyone.”
RSF supports this complaint and joins NUSOJ in calling for the Criminal Investigation Department to take charge of this case. The decision to close the investigation and release the two police officers constitutes a flagrant case of impunity. A transparent and independent investigation must be carried out to establish the circumstances of the shooting and identify those responsible.
Hostile climate for national and international media in Somali
Recurring acts of violence against journalists, which are growing in intensity, testify to the hostility of climate for the media in Somalia. The most dangerous parts of the country are
Puntland, an autonomous region in the northeast, and Somaliland, a self-proclaimed independent republic in the northwest.
Fourteen journalists were the targets of a wave of arrests in Somaliland in April 2022 and surreal, trumped-up charges were brought against three of them. The international media are also often targeted. Four days after Somaliland’s government banned BBC Somali service broadcasts on 19 July, police raided the BBC bureau in Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa, and arrested several of its journalists, including the bureau chief.
Somalia is ranked 140th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2022 World Press Freedom Index.