Somalia: UN must take action to defend journalists’ human rights



The IFJ and its affiliate, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), have formally called on the UN Human Rights Council to take action to stop attacks against the country’s journalists.

The organisations made the call at the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, demanding that the Somali authorities act to stop the human rights’ violations against journalists, deliver justice and reparation to victims, and implement the recommendations of the UN special rapporteurs and the ILO.

Welcoming the report and recommendations of the UN Independent Expert on the Human Rights Situation in Somalia, the IFJ and NUSOJ noted that since the report was drafted the situation of Somali journalists and trade unionists has only worsened.

Attacks against journalists have increased this year. On July 26, a young, aspiring journalist was gunned down by a policeman in Mogadishu. On September 18 a journalist was stabbed to death in Galkayo city. Police in Puntland had brutally assaulted another journalist on September 23, while a TV journalist luckily escaped with his life after plain clothes security officials fired four shots at the reporter. These incidents illustrate the heavy-handedness of those supposed to protect journalists. Worst of all, they do it with impunity.

In addition, Somaliland authorities have increased the repressive campaign against journalists. Their courts sent 14 journalists to jail on dubious grounds and without a fair or transparent trial. A new media law that restricts freedom of expression and journalists’ basic rights is being discussed at the federal parliament.

Violations of freedom of association continue to go unchecked. Journalists and other workers are in practice denied that right and no trade union is effectively allowed to exist and function independently from the control of Ministries.

The critical human rights situation was addressed by the European Parliament in July, when MEPs supported a resolution that powerfully denounced repeated and serious violations of freedom of association, the targeting of journalists, attacks on media freedom and the failure to carry out credible investigations of crimes committed against Somali journalists.

Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General, said in a statement to the Human Rights Council that “impunity for violations of freedoms of expression and of association remains the rule”.

It is as if journalists and trade unionists are people stripped of their rights. The aversion to investigating these human rights violations should not go unchallenged by the international community”, added Faruk Osman, who delivered his statement on behalf of the IFJ.



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