Radio Simba Staffer Killed in Somalia

Radio station staffer Farah Hassan Sahal was killed August 4 in Mogadishu, Somalia by sniper gunfire.  Sahal was attempting to transport radio equipment with two of his colleagues when caught in between Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African Union in Somalia (AMISOM) forces exchanging gunfire with Al Shabaab forces. Sahal had worked for Radio Simba since its formation in 2006. Since fighting restarted in the Bakaraa area of Mogadishu, Radio Simba had been off the air and its staff unable to do their reporting within the last few days.

The struggle between TFG and Al Shabaab has dramatically affected the country’s media environment. Somalia’s charter promotes freedom of the press, but because of the government instability, journalists continue to face reporting obstacles.  In recent years, media outlets have aligned themselves with political factions as a means of survival, making impartial reporting harder to achieve. Harassment, arbitrary arrests and violence against journalists continue to lead to high levels of self-censorship.  Al Shabaab has also engaged in direct censorship, forcing several radio stations to shut down. A number of journalists have also been killed in the capital, whether accidently or for supporting particular political factors—two killed in 2010.

Freedom House is saddened by the death of Farah Hassan Sahal, and calls on the authorities to fully investigate Sahal’s death in an effort to uphold press freedom in Somalia.

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