IFJ Condemns Somali Information Minister Attack on Journalists’ Union

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the statements of the Somali Minister of Information attacking the National Union of Somali Journalists and asking international organisations to work with local journalists only through his ministry.

“We are very surprised by this move of the Information Minister,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. “We condemn the clumsy statement of the Minister and call on the Somali government to let media organisations work directly with their partners free from government interference.”

On 5 October, the IFJ as well as Somali organisations and media, received a scanned letter issued by the Somali Minister of Information Madobe Nunow Mohamed, dated on 3 October, 2007. The Minister wrote that to reach NGOs in Somalia the international media organisations should contact the Minister of Information. He added that “No NGO that [sic] can claim the responsibility of Somali Journalism [sic] other than the Somalia Information Ministry.”

Last Thursday, during an interview on Shabelle Radio (which resumed operations after 15 days off air), Madobe Nunow Mohamed said that he does not recognise the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and the union has no right to represent and organise journalists. The Ministry of information is intending "to establish a union for Somali journalists", the Minister added.

Mohamed ordered the media companies and organisations to register with his Ministry otherwise the unregistered media will not be able to work. NUSOJ officers told IFJ that their organisation paid 200 US Dollars on 22 July, 2007, for their registration after Mohamed said that the registrations issued by his predecessors were cancelled.

“NUSOJ is motivated by the need to defend, protect and enhance the historical and current interests of journalists, and we can not be diverted from this line,” said Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary General of NUSOJ.

“NUSOJ is a long time affiliate of the IFJ and we express our entire support to our NUSOJ colleagues,” said Gabriel Baglo. “The commitment of NUSOJ for journalists’ rights and duties is well known. We call on the Minister to reconsider his position and to resume peaceful collaboration with NUSOJ for the benefit of the Somali media community.”

For more information contact the IFJ at + 221 33 842 01 43

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries worldwide