IFJ Backs Calls for Respect of Somali Journalists' Labour Rights in Dispute with Radio Bar-Kulan

The findings of a report on the working conditions of Somali journalists employed by Radio Bar-Kulan (RBK) raise major concerns which must be addressed in the strict respect of the workers' rights, says the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

The IFJ affiliate in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has published a report which found cases of "abuses, exploitation and maltreatments of journalists" by the management of RBK, a station headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, and run by Albany Associates International UK Limited under a UN funding.  

"The report's findings make for a distressing reading and we urge the station's management and funders to get to the bottom of the story and ensure that our colleagues have an opportunity to defend their rights and receive redress for any legitimate claims," said Beth Costa, IFJ General Secretary. "The alleged practices such as discrimination and unilateral change of employment terms are unconscionable and need to be stumped out wherever they are found."

According to NUSOJ, a number of Somali journalists working for the RBK station have complained about abuses, exploitation and maltreatment which led to firings and forced resignations. Working journalists have had their salaries reduced by half without consultation and refused pay slips showing the breakdown of their entitlements and wage reductions. NUSOJ also accused RBK management of practicing discrimination on the basis of clan during recruitment.

"It is clear from the onset of these occurrences that RBK station is in total breach of the fundamental human rights, the Constitution of Kenya and the Labour Laws on the limbs of freedom of expression and association," NUSOJ report  said. NUSOJ General Omar Osman Faruk pledged to support journalists at Radio Bar-Kulan in their fight for social justice and respect for their basic rights.

The report points out other violations of journalists' rights such as the victimising of staff who lost their jobs because they refused to compromise their profession's ethics. It highlighted, in particular, the case of Farah Lamaane, former senior editor at the RBK who was forced to resign after complaining of unwarranted interference with editorial independence by the station's management concerning a live coverage last November.

"The IFJ stands for press freedom which cannot be achieved when journalists are not allowed to make editorial decisions without undue influence," added Costa. "We support NUSOJ demand for labour rights and better working conditions of journalists at RBK radio."

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries