Five-year jail sentence for Somali policeman who murdered a journalist

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate arrest of a Somali policeman so that he can begin serving the five-year jail sentence he received last November for fatally shooting a journalist. The sentence was not made public and RSF has only just learned of its existence.

The verdict issued by a military court on 1 November 2018, a copy of which has been obtained by RSF, states: “In the court’s view, it has been clearly established that Abdullahi Ahmed Nur, a police sergeant working for the customs and finance department, committed the crime of which he is accused.”

The court’s sentence, is five years in prison and the payment of 100 camels in compensation to the family of Abdirisak Qasim Iman, theSomali Broadcasting Services (SBS)cameraman he shot twice in the head at close range at a police checkpoint in Mogadishu on 26 July 2018.

RSF has been told by Iman’s family and other local sources that Nur, after being very quickly identified as the police officer who fired the shots, fled to Galkayo, a city 700 km northeast of Mogadishu, and has yet to be arrested.

His conviction by a military court was never made public in the hope that he would not remain a fugitive. The Somali law enforcement authorities reportedly wanted to announce the judgement once the convicted killer is arrested. A close presidential aide told RSF that the case was being “closely followed” and that a meeting was planned with the police on this subject.

“This conviction is an important step in the fight against crimes of violence against journalists in Somalia, one of Africa’s most dangerous countries for journalists,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “It is now vital that this police officer should be arrested so that the court’s decision can be carried out and so that journalists feel more protected even when members of the security forces are responsible for abuses against media personnel.”

Somalia has been the deadliest African country for the media during the past ten years, with a total of 56 journalists killed. Significant progress has nonetheless been made in recent months in combatting the impunity previously enjoyed by members of the security forces.

Two soldiers were arrested in March for manhandling and humiliating two reporters who were interviewing passers-by on the streets of the capital. And a member of the presidential guard was arrested and placed under investigation last month for a violent attack on Abdulkadir Ahmed Mohamed, a journalist working for the Mogadishu regional government’s Voice of Banadir radio station.

Three journalists were killed in connection with their work last year in Somalia, which is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index .