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Vol 50 No 7

Published 3rd April 2009

Words like freedom

Telling the public the truth is getting more dangerous and expensive, as rulers and militias resist the development of a free press. The rate of targeted killings of journalists in Africa is rising fast. Governments and corrupt businesses are resorting to launching defamation cases or backing draconian media laws to crack down on independent journalism.

On the first day of 2009, Hassan Mayow, a journalist working for Somalia's Radio Shabelle, was shot dead by government troops in Afgoye, 30 kilometres outside the capital. The soldiers accused him of favouring the insurgents by biased reporting. One month later, some of those insurgents aligned to Al Shabaab militia killed Said Tahlil, formerly Director of Somalia's other leading media house, HornAfrik. Militants from organisations such as Al Shabaab and Hisbul Islam suspect the Somali media of harbouring Western influences. Radio Shabelle and HornAfrik were founded and sponsored by Somali exiles in Britain and Canada. HornAfrik's founder, Ali Shamarke, was killed by a car bomb in August 2007.

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