Press briefing notes: Attacks on journalists in Somalia and Bolivia

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Date: 30 October 2012

We are extremely alarmed by the continuing assault on Somalia’s media workers and journalists by Al Shabab and other elements. Yesterday, a well-known musician and poet working for Radio Kulmiye, Mr Warsame Shire Awale, was shot dead in what appears to have been yet another targeted killing of media workers.

The previous day (Sunday, 28 October) Mohamed Mohamud Turyare, a journalist and producer with another radio station, Radio Shabelle, died as a result of wounds received a week earlier on 21 October, when in a similar attack near his home he was reportedly shot by two men with pistols.

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSJ) has said that Warsame Shire Awale had received threats linked to critical comments he had made about gunmen targeting civilians, and added that it believes his murder may also be the result of his public commentaries.

According to the NUSJ, these two latest deaths take the number of media workers killed this year in Somalia to 18, the second highest toll in the world after Syria. Nine of them were killed in the past six weeks, including three in separate incidents in the past seven days alone.

We urge the new Government of Somalia to take urgent steps to protect journalists and other media workers, and to end the complete impunity that has been enjoyed by their killers. Each death should be properly investigated. Al Shabab has allegedly claimed responsibility for around ten of the killings, but the remainder may have been committed by other elements easier to investigate and arrest.

The role of the media is crucial as Somalia tries to get back on its feet, and the continued regular slaughter of the country’s journalists risks stifling the media’s ability to contribute to an improvement in law and order and good governance.

We also roundly condemn the vicious and brazen attack yesterday on Bolivian radio journalist Fernando Vidal, who reportedly had petrol poured over him and was set on fire while in the studio in the town of Yacuiba near the border with Argentina. Early reports suggest that he and the studio technician who also suffered burns, have survived the attack.

You may recall, at the press conference here 12 days ago, the High Commissioner said she was shocked by the number of journalists who are killed because of their work. She reminded governments that it is their responsibility to fully respect the right to freedom of expression and to protect those who exercise this right.


For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / or Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 /

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