The International Federation of Journalists today backed Somali journalists in their calls for the need to improve the security of media professionals in the country.
During the opening today of the 3rd General Assembly of the IFJ affiliate in Somalia, the Somali Journalists Network (SOJON) in Mogadishu, delegations from the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) of Somalia, Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia and the IFJ discussed the troubled media landscape of this divided country with over 170 SOJON members.
Delegates pointed out that security concerns facing journalists are coming from every corner of the country - warlords, regional administrations, independent militias, clan-built Islamic courts, armed business groups and bands of soldiers. “Safety violations against journalists are taking place regularly in almost every region in our country,” said Omar Faruk, SOJON General Secretary.
The Deputy Prime Minister along with the Interior Minister of the TFP, Mr. Hussein Mohamed Aidid, who was leading the government’s delegation to the journalists’ assembly, said that brutality against journalists are unacceptable acts and that the government is looking to prioritize the safety of journalists.
“The police and the security forces are under my Ministry and I assure you that there will be no unlawful intimidations or arrests of journalists,” said Mr Aidid. ‘The government assigned the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Information to draft laws, including a media law, which we aim to have full consultation with you, but I ask you as journalists to act ethically and to participate in the rebuilding efforts of our country”.
“On behalf of the Federal Parliament, I want to tell the government before your General Assembly that the government must come up with plans to protect the safety and rights to free expression of the media,” said Osman Elmi Boqorre, the deputy speaker of the TFP of Somalia.
The director of the Africa Office of the IFJ, Gabriel Baglo stated that the IFJ is delighted to be represented by a delegation consisting of an open and transparent policymaking body, working for the Federation on the ground to promote unity in Somalia.
“The media should focus their attention in playing a significant role towards unity and peace building in Somalia,” said Baglo. “This meeting provides a solid platform to discuss concrete issues concerning the security of journalists, press freedom, social rights of journalists and professional standards. “In particular, it gives us an occasion to democratically vote on amendments to the SOJON constitution, the election of a new leadership for the organization and to brainstorm on issues for the future work of the organization.” “As SOJON is a member of the IFJ, we have the duty to accompany its growth especially at this important moment of the country’s history”.
”The government’s presence today is a clear indication that they support what SOJON is doing. “Nonetheless, I wish to reiterate the vital importance for the members of the TFP to observe and respect press freedom in Somalia,” said Herbert Lumansi, IFJ Executive Committee member. “They should ensure that the arrests and harassment of all journalists will stop”.
“As the government is in the process of restoring law and order in the country, they should involve the media in the drafting process of relevant laws that govern their profession,” said Lumansi. “We need fair and just laws that will allow and promote media growth in this country, while the journalists themselves work in an ethical and accountable manner”.
The General Assembly, which is the constitutional annual meeting of the members of SOJON, will work together over a period of three days to discuss key issues concerning the safety of journalists, press freedom, professional standards and social rights of journalists.
For more information please contact Gabriel Baglo: +221 644 23 61
The IFJ is representing over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries