The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has applauded the adoption today of a European Parliament resolution calling on the Somali government to end its persecution of journalists and trade unions, in particular the IFJ-affiliate in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), the country’s journalists’ union and its leader.
The resolution which is first of its kind on the human rights situation in Somalia ever passed by the European Parliament powerfully denounces 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.
The European Parliament strongly condemns “the grave violations of freedom of association and freedom of expression against Somalia's free and independent trade unions and in particular, the longstanding repression against the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) [...] and demands the end of ongoing investigations and closure of the case, by the Office of the Attorney General against Mr Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary General of NUSOJ” and urges “the Federal Government of Somalia to respect and uphold the international rule of law, and fully accept and implement the decisions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on case 3113”.
It also “deplores State and non-State actors’ violations of the freedom of expression in Somalia; considers any intimidation, harassment, detention or killing of journalists and civil society activists as absolutely unacceptable; asserts that freedom of expression and thought is indispensable for the development of a strong and democratic society; calls on the Government of Somalia to ensure the right to freedom of expression is fully respected”.
The resolution comes in the wake of ongoing concern expressed by Members of European Parliament (MEPs) about the targeting of NUSOJ and its leaders including arbitrary detention, travel bans and attempts to undermine the independence of the union. European parliamentarian unanimously and collectively expressed their concern that “freedom of expression continues to be severely limited in Somalia…and trade union and workers’ rights activists face intimidation, reprisals and harassment on a daily basis…stigmatisation and smear campaigns against unionists are commonplace in Somalia”.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger welcomed the resolution. He said: “Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists and instead of investigating crimes against journalists the government spends its time attacking independent unions and harassing their leaders. We call on the Somali government to stop the persecution and uphold the decisions of the ILO and respect international law”.
The unanimous adoption of this resolution by Europe’s legislative body proves once again the enormity of the violations of freedom of expression and freedom of association against NUSOJ members and leaders which the IFJ has long documented. The abuses have also been validated by the UN’s labour body, the ILO, and today's vote sends a powerful message not only to those who undermine and deny trade union rights in Somalia but also those who conceal or ignore these improper human rights abuses.
IFJ has pledged to continue to support NUSOJ and to mount international campaign to protect the union and its member journalists, and Somalia’s endangered media community.