NUSOJ accuses Somali Ministry of Information for faking sincerity to resolve journalists’ safety crisis
The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has today accused federal Ministry of Information of Somalia for faking its sincerity in efforts to protect the safety of journalists and seek accountability for abuses committed against media professionals.
NUSOJ termed the announcement by acting Federal Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Abdirahman Iidan Yonis, in which he claimed to have launched “National Mechanism for Safety of Journalism” as “only smokescreen justice for victim journalists”.
The Ministry organised purported “multi-stakeholder dialogue forum for safety of Journalism” in Mogadishu which was attended by federal government officials and its “sweetheart” individuals in the media but unprecedentedly boycotted by Ministries of Information from Somalia’s regional states while independent and outspoken voices of journalists who would challenge the Ministry’s poor human rights record were barred.
For many years NUSOJ documented predators of press freedom in Somalia who deliberately put the life of journalists in danger, and Al-Shabaab is not the sole perpetrator. Past and present officials of the Federal Ministry of Information are implicated in dangerous attacks against journalists such as inciting and instigating security forces against journalists, organising judicial persecution of media professionals, harassing and vilifying media persons, obstructing calls for accountability for crimes committed against journalists, orchestrating halting of meetings by journalist union, successfully proposing draconian media bills in order to legally suffocate the independent media community and reinforcing culture of impunity by affronting Somalia’s international human rights obligations.
NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman called the Ministry organised meeting “a gross insult to victim journalists” and was organised by Somali officials who “scandalously violate and dishonour international human rights law with impunity”. “This event is a perverse assessment of Somali ministry of information officials implicated in possible violations of human rights abuses of serious nature”. “Since when a perpetrator of dangerous human rights abuses earned to be awarded for the protection of his own victims?” he asked.
The union welcomed the collective decision of the five Regional State Ministries of Information to boycott the forum which would have rubberstamped a plan that will reward an oppressive government arm, and the boycott evinces the authoritarian attitude of this Ministry which has now gone beyond human rights abuses and triggered fresh national political divisions. Visibly the Federal Ministry’s declaration of “National Mechanism for Safety of Journalism” was thoroughly rejected by Somalia’s five Federal Member States, making it only confined to few pockets of the capital Mogadishu, and lacks broad national ownership and legitimacy.
“As an institution tainted by human rights abuses, the Ministry of Information should step aside, come clean from serious rights abuses allegations it has been facing and allow other governmental institutions to lead and convoke journalist safety deliberations. Time to play blind, deaf and dumb is coming to an end,” asserted Osman.
NUSOJ supports the calls for an independent inquiry from the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) on attacks against journalists, NUSOJ and trade union which will undoubtedly include attacks committed by Federal Ministry of Information, which is the only Ministry in the Somali government that is incriminated in grave rights abuses by UN human rights bodies.
These scot-free attacks of “serious nature” were equally condemned by UN human rights mandate holders, ILO and international journalists and trade union movement.