Reporters Sans Frontiers believes the murderer of an Anglo-Swedish journalist in Somalia last week will be caught, but it doubts that the killers of a British journalist murdered in the country last year will ever be found.
Martin Adler was shot dead in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Friday, as he filmed a rally organised by the Union of Islamic Courts that seized power in the city this month.
RSF’s Africa officer Leonard Vincent told Press Gazette: “Something really serious has to be done around the protection of journalists, and Martin Adler is just one dreadful, terrible incident that happened after one year of impunity for the killers of Kate Peyton.” Adler, a freelance journalist, who worked for Channel 4, the BBC and Swedish media, won the Rory Peck Award for hard-news coverage in 2004 for his Gulf War documentary On Patrol With Charlie Campaign.
In 2005, BBC producer Peyton was shot and killed outside a hotel in Mogadishu where she intended to make a series of reports about the country.
According to a witness, a gunman deliberately shot 47-year-old father of two Adler in the heart.
Anti-foreigner sentiment has reportedly been stoked in Mogadishu by reports that the warlords defeated by the Islamic leaders this month had been secretly financed by the CIA.
RSF works in tandem with a Somali organisation that is represented in Mogadishu — the National Union of Somali Journalists.
The organisation is trying to put pressure on the transitional government to investigate the killing, but said that in the case of Adler it is only the Islamic courts and the clans that share the power in Mogadishu that can bring the killers to justice.
Vincent said: “I know a lot of people in Mogadishu know who killed Martin Adler, what happened exactly and who
can be behind all this. The Islamic courts have already launched a serious operation against a suspect and his friends.
“We will wait and see if the people who hold the power in Mogadishu only concentrate on Martin Adler just to ease the situation today, but we will continue to ask them to investigate the killing of Kate Peyton.” Tina Carr, director of the Rory Peck Trust, said that she personally knew five journalists connected with the organisation who have been killed while working.
As well as giving annual awards to freelance war correspondents the trust campaigns for safety and is named after a freelance cameraman killed in a crossfire during an uprising in Moscow in 1993.
Carr said: “I have heard that with Martin the BBC and Channel 4 were both working to try and bring him home, although he wasn’t working for either of them at the time he was killed.
That wouldn’t have happened when Rory died.” Channel 4’s international editor, Lindsey Hilsum, said: “I was on the panel for the Rory Peck Award when he won. That piece was exceptional and it was a testament to his skill as a journalist as well as his bravery in going into these situations.” Newsnight journalist Paul Mason, who worked with Adler in Africa, wrote on his blog: “He is one of a small clan of elite world affairs journalists who can shoot, write, produce, edit. Because of Martin and people like him, we know a bit of the truth about what conflict does: it senselessly kills people, degrades them.
“I will remember him not just for the stories he got, but for the way he told them — every work was an act of authorship. Of that clan he was the least scarred and cynical.” Adler was filing from Mogadishu for a Swedish newspaper.
In the past six years, six journalists have been shot and killed in Somalia, and Mogadishu is one of the most dangerous cities in Africa — in the past month at least 339 people have been killed and 1,500 injured as a result of the country’s long-running civil war, according to the BBC.
Speaking recently to Press Gazette, the editor of the BBC’s Somali Service, Yusuf Garaad Omar, admitted that it was “very difficult” for foreign journalists to cover Somalia. “When they visit the country they have to make sure that it is a well organised trip that is as short as possible, but there are still dangers involved,” he said.
The investigation by the Somali authorities into Peyton’s death has produced no results, and according to RSF, her murderers enjoy complete impunity in Mogadishu.
RSF said: “The killers live openly in Mogadishu. They belong to a wellknown clan that turns to an Islamic court to settle judicial issues. But their justice appears not to be operative when the victim is someone from outside the clan.”