The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), the Africa Group of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today marked the UN Day against impunity for crime targeting journalists by calling on the African Union and African Governments to end impunity for killings and violent assaults on journalists in Africa.
FAJ says that there are many African countries where impunity for violence continues to cast a shadow over journalism. They include Somalia which recorded yesterday 1 November the latest deadly terror attack by Al-Shabaab terrorist group in Mogadishu in which 15 people, including journalist Mustaf Abdi Nur, 27 who worked for Shabelle Media Network and freelanced as cameraman for Al-Jazeera TV, lost their lives. Mustaf Abdi Nur is the 5th journalist killed in Somalia since the start of the year.
“Yesterday’s attack and the mindless loss of life was a stark reminder of what journalists face on daily basis in the country,” said Maria Luisa Rogerio, FAJ interim President. “The lack of accountability for such violence has consolidated the reign of terror, with journalists as its primary targets.”
But Somalia is not the only dangerous country for journalists in Africa. In the course of this year, there have been assaults and killings of journalists in many other parts of the continent, including South Sudan, Mozambique, and Burundi; while a new source of danger from kidnapping of journalists has emerged in Nigeria.
InSouth Sudan Seven (7) journalists have been murdered. In January, five journalists working for state-run media were shot dead along with government officials in an ambush by unknown gunmen, while another journalist was killed in May, during a gun battle by two rival groups. The last killing was journalist Peter Julius Moi who was shot dead by unknown gunmen when he left his workplace in Juba on 19 August. A Few days before the killing, President Salva Kiir made a veiled threat reportedly against journalists whom he accused of ‘reporting against the government.” To date, no one has been arrested in connection with his murder.
In Burundi privately owned stations were attacked with heavy weapons in May, and all equipment were destroyed and offices burnt down. More than 100 journalists have been forced into exile and those who stayed in the country are frequently assaulted and forced into underground. This climate of violence claimed the life of state TV RTNB cameraman Christophe Nkezabahizi, who was gunned down at home with his wife and two children by security forces on 13 October.
“We urge the African Union and African Governments to investigate all these extra judicial killings and assaults on journalists and other media workers in line of duty and hold their perpetrators to account,” added Maria Luisa Rogerio. “Existing mechanisms in Africa such as the African Court of Human Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights can contribute towards ending impunity and AU Member States need to accept their jurisdiction.
The 02 November was adopted by the UN General Assembly as UN Day against impunity for crime targeting journalists. Two RFI journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon were murdered on 02 November 2013 in Kidal (Northern Mali) and their killers are still at large.
Many killings and assaults of journalists have remained unpunished over the last three decades, and the FAJ has invited all affiliates to join the campaign supported by the IFJ and the UN to end impunity against journalists in Africa.
For more information, please contact FAJ Secretariat: +221 33 867 95 86/87
The FAJ represents 50,000 journalists in Africa