Journalists Demand Justice In Worldwide Campaign

unnamedJournalists just can’t get a break. In the U.S. last week, reporters grilling Republicans had their hands smacked (figuratively) by partisans uncomfortable with the tough questioning they weren’t accustomed to.

But abroad, journalism is not only a deadly undertaking. Those who attack and kill “the messenger”, do so with little fear of punishment.

For this reason, the U.N. agency UNESCO sponsored a resolution proclaiming Nov. 2 as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.”  Access to information is also one of the U.N.’s sustainable development goals launched in September.

According to the Al Jazeera news agency, some 700 journalists were killed in the last decade while reporting. “Most recently,” they wrote, “the world has seen the deliberate targeting of reporters within war and conflicts. Many journalists have been killed and tortured by violent groups, other have been silenced by government and institutions.”

Most recently, Somali reporter Mustaf Abdi Noor, “a multi-talented journalist, adept at both taking photographs and reporting,” was killed in an al-Shabab attack on a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia. He was 23.

“Many of his close colleagues left journalism because it was too dangerous,” eulogized news producer Hamza Mohamed. “Some even took the perilous Mediterranean route out of the country because they believed that was safer.

But not Shafana, as he was widely known. “Somalia was too deep a part of him and he said he would never leave.”

Shafana worked for Radio Shabelle and to international media organizations, including Al Jazeera.

“He was driven to show another side of Somalia to the world: the pristine white beaches, the exotic fresh fruits, the new villas going up in the capital. We started a social media hashtag, #My252, (252 is Somalia’s dialing code), to highlight this side of the country – a changing side.”

This week, a report titled “Silenced and Intimidated: Attacks on Freedom of Expression in Kenya” was released by the London-based Article 19, a charity that defends press freedoms worldwide. The report highlighted a “substantial increase” in attacks on Kenyan journalists in 2015 – most of these for coverage of corruption and protest. The full report is available online under Article 19. Other state abusers can be found on their Twitter feed.

An African website, Journalists for Justice, lists other cases on the continent.

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