Africa: IFJ Welcomes UN Independent Expert’s Report Over Press Freedom’s Violations in Somalia

IFJ

Press Release

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Somali affiliate, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), have today welcomed the report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Mr. Bahame Nyanduga, at the 30th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

In a statement to the Council, the two organisations said that they shared the concerns raised in the report over endless attacks on journalists and violations of press freedom in the country.

“My report addresses the grim situation faced by journalists, media workers, media houses and owners,” said the independent expert. “I received numerous reports of intimidation, arrests and prosecution of journalists on account of their professional work. Journalists have been killed for reporting on the conflict. In some cases media houses were closed down and media equipment confiscated or destroyed. A media law adopted by the cabinet of the Federal Government and sent to parliament proposes to introduce hefty fines. It establishes a media council that is fully controlled by the government. These draconian provisions in the media law bill, unless revised by parliament, are likely to threaten the existence of the free media and journalism profession.”

According to NUSOJ, four journalists were killed in this year in Mogadishu & Baidoa, 9 journalists were arrested and three media houses were closed down, while 2 other news media organisations were banned from operating in southeast (Jubaland) and northeast (Puntland). Journalists are gagged and persecuted under Somalia’s old and draconian penal code because of their media work, NUSOJ added.

The IFJ and the NUSOJ blamed the authorities in Somalia, including the Federal Government, for the attacks, threats against journalists as well as the repressive and hostile environment for press freedom. In a statement delivered during the Interactive Dialogue on the report, the IFJ and NUSOJ urged the UN Human Rights Council to press Somalian government for steps to ensure the safety of journalists.

“We urge the UN Human Rights Council and the Independent Expert on Human Rights Situation on Somalia to press the Federal Government and other relevant regional authorities on the need for immediate steps to ensure that journalists can do their job safely and without improper government or third party interference,” said the statement delivered by NUSOJ General Secretary, Omar Faruk Osman. “To this end, they should conduct prompt and effective investigations into crimes against journalists and bring those responsible to justice. High-ranking government officials should also refrain from interfering with the media and instead publicly condemn crimes against journalists. Finally, the media law should be drastically reviewed again to respect and protect media freedom.”

The IFJ and the NUSOJ believe the Somali Government has failed to meet international and regional human rights obligations, which has resulted in rampant culture of impunity, political interference and smear campaigns targeting critical media and journalists.

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 139 countries

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