Somali Journalists Conclude Their General Assembly

Statement from the Somali Journalists Network (SOJON)

A four-day meeting of Somali Journalists was concluded in Mogadishu yesterday. The meeting was officially opened by the mayor of Mogadishu City, Mr. Ibrahim Omar Sabriye "Shaaweey" on Saturday, the 28th of August 2004, and closed on the 31st of August 2004.

112 delegates from all parts of Somalia, not including journalists from the regions of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, gathered in the capital city to attend the SOJON General Assembly under the theme "Somali Journalists Meeting for a Unified Profession".

The meeting, the largest gathering ever held for Somali journalists, agreed on many useful decisions to be realized in the coming year (2004/2005). In addition, the General Assembly adopted many valuable rules such as the professional ethics and a code of conduct for all practicing journalists in the country.

The assembly, which was composed of 112 members from the Somali Journalists Network, and attended by local & international observers and guests, discussed key topics including:

  • freedom of expression in Somalia;

  • political interference in Somali journalism;

  • journalism visa-vise tribalism;

  • the status and working conditions of journalists in Somalia;

  • press freedom violations;

  • ethics and self-regulations;

  • How to develop freedom of expression?;

  • How to protect yourself as a journalist?;

  • Concerns and needs of media professionals and;

  • the Adoption of a Somali Press Freedom declaration .

    The journalists also discussed constitutional amendments including the transformation of SOJON from an association to trade union at national level, and as a professional organization.

    The General Assembly elected Mr. Abdulkadir Ali Abdulle, as its new Director General replacing Mr. Abukar Sheikh who resigned in April 2004. Mr. Mohamed Barre Haji was elected as Chairman of the newly-created Supreme Council. Five regional representatives were also elected in the regional caucuses.

    During the same Assembly the Secretary General, Omar Farouk nominated two women journalists to the Executive Committee.

    "I am very delighted that the SOJON General Assembly has come to a successful end, and wish to congratulate the Executive Committee and the delegates who have been here for the last four days," said Herbert Lumansi, the International Federation of Journalists' (IFJ) Regional Adviser for Africa in his closing remarks.

    "I am sure that the election of new office representatives including the new Director General and the Chairman of the Supreme Council have been carried out in the most democratic and transparent manner," added Mr. Lumansi.

    "This General Assembly shows a very encouraging level of commitment by Somali journalists to move forward on a unified front, and I congratulate all the delegates for their efforts" said Chris Greene, the Director of BBC Training for Somali journalists. "We hope that we can work closely with the new Executive Committee in the coming months," said Mr. Greene.

    Mogadishu, August 31, 2004

    See also

    Mogadishu Declaration on Freedom of Press in Somalia