IFJ Calls on Somalia’s New Rulers to Support Independent Journalism and Press Freedom

The International Federation of Journalists, which represents over 500,000 journalists worldwide, today called upon Somalia to strengthen the participation of journalists in the drafting of the national constitution and a new media law.

The IFJ says urgent action is needed to improve the country’s current press freedom situation. “The Somali people has to recover from the 14-year terror of armed militias in the country and now move into a new democratic environment where there is respect for free speech and press freedom," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “That requires the creation of a confident, vigorous community of journalists and we urge the new government to support actively the development of quality journalism”.

The Somalia National Reconciliation Conference, which was initiated on 15 October 2002 in Kenya, led recently to the selection of 275 members of the transitional federal parliament and the subsequent election of an interim President for the Federal Republic of Somalia, Col. Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed.

The IFJ is asking the new Transitional President and parliamentarians to respect the freedom of expression to foster the participation of media professionals in the debate about new media initiatives.

The IFJ statement follows a declaration issued at the end of a meeting organized by the Somali Journalists Network (SOJON), an IFJ affiliate, with journalists, media owners, human rights and youth activists and civil society representatives, calling for editorial independence and the development of self-regulatory structures in Somalia.

“We welcome very much the solidarity of journalists and civil society groups to protect and strengthen freedom of expression in Somalia”, said White. “We support their claims and calls for an end to all direct and indirect censorship”.

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries.