NUSOJ welcomes Amnesty International report on Attacks against Somali Journalists
MOGADISHU, Somalia, July 23, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) welcomes the Amnesty International’s latest publication on Somalia, which focuses on journalists’ working conditions in the country, under the title: “Hard news: Journalists’ Lives in danger in Somalia”.
The amnesty report highlights explicitly the current dangerous and difficult situation in which Somali journalists find themselves, especially the attacks against journalists by both the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Al-Shabaab extremists.
“Journalists in Somalia are being are oppressed by all armed groups and have been refused space to operate and carry out their work independently and fearlessly. This report details exactly what happens in our country, committed by warring sides that use the power of the gun against journalists. The Transitional Federal Government and armed groups cited in this report should look at the report constructively and implement its recommendations instead of living in denial like the TFG is trying to do,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
NUSOJ do confidently confirm the cases mentioned in the report as they have been reported by the union, news media organisations and local human rights community. “It is no secret that the TFG forces threatened and arrested journalists in June this year. The connection as well as the level at which armed security take, respect and implement the orders issued by Ministers and other TFG operatives has been indisputably disorderly and inconsistent,” added Omar Faruk.
“While the TFG is regretting from acts of its forces against the press, we would like to know what measures have they put in place to guarantee that such actions will not be repeated. There is no justification to arrest a journalist in war zone” he added.
NUSOJ particularly calls on the Transitional Federation Government to make use of the goodwill and trust of the Somali people to provide solutions to the country’s problems and to genuinely earn the support of the international community by focussing on and correcting their mistakes which includes attacks against press freedom by its security agents.
“TFG must not be oblivious of its duties and responsibilities. We expect them to investigate the officers involved in these attacks against journalists and to take immediate remedial action,” added Omar Faruk. “Living in denial and taking a defensive position in this matter would be viewed as an attempt to dismiss plausible reports of press freedom violations, and may be interpreted as a TFG policy encouraging press freedom violations.”
It is also very surprising that the Minister of Information has dismissed claims by journalist Mohamed Ibrahim Isak that his life is in danger even after officials from the ministry of information, accompanied by presidential security guards, attempted to arrest him.
On 17 June 2010, after the New York Times published a story by Mohamed Ibrahim Isak, which accused the TFG of employing child soldiers, Radio Mogadishu held a talk show in which the spokesman of the Ministry of information, Mr. Abdirisaq Qeylow, the News Editor, Abdulasis Africa, harangued the newspaper and its journalists, insinuating they had links with the terrorist organizations like the Al-Shabaab. This is a state-run radio, which carries a huge responsibility for the public.
“It is disappointing that the public radio is being used for partisan reasons and to attack journalists who were just performing their duties. Radio Mogadishu cannot be used to denigrate journalists,” said Omar Faruk. “We expect Radio Mogadishu to exercise professionalism, show responsibility and be open to all Somali citizens, including all politicians who do not call for violence and hate,” added Omar Faruk.
On June 18, officials from the presidential palace, the police, the intelligence and the ministry of information met in Villa Somalia. The ministry of information was represented by Abdirahim Isse Addow, the presidential palace was represented by Abdulkarim, who is the presidential chief of Staff, and Abdirashid Hashi who is the communication officer, Gen. Gaafow, head of Immigration and officials from the Somali military, including the deputy chief of staff. It was reportedly said that they discussed the best way they can handle New York Times journalists in the country.
On June 24, a press conference co-organized by the ministry of information and the presidential palace was held at Villa Somalia. At the press conference, they made it public that “anyone who was involved in the publishing of story of the child soldiers had links with the terrorist organization, Al-Shabab and would be brought before the court.”
National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ)