Friday, May 13, 2011

NUSOJ’s Statement on World Press Freedom Day

NUSOJ SG Omar Faruk Osman

To commemorate World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2011, The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) celebrates the indispensible role that journalists play in Somali society in the face of increasing wave of repression.
Crackdown against journalists and news media organisations takes place in the context of the intensification of the fight between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) with the help of the African Union troops and Al-Shabaab forces.
NUSOJ honors this day by shedding a light on the numerous press freedom violations of arbitrary arrests, life-threatening attacks, judicial harassment against journalists and their media organisations, the censorship and the attempts to control independent media.
“Determined use of a wide array of draconian laws (media specific or general laws) to arrest targeted journalists perceived as imperiling the authorities, and the inculcation of a culture of fear through various means of intimidation, arrest and coercion, together with clumsy tactics, which in turn have led to widespread self-censorship, are among the dangerous strategies used to curtail press freedom in Somalia,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

From January to May 2011, NUSOJ documented following press freedom violations based on Type of Violations, Number of Violations, and Perpetrator (s). On Harassment (Media House & Journalists) it recorded a number of 4 of which it alleges that Ahlasunah Waljama, TFG, Al-Shabaab, Puntland were the perpetrators.
On Assaults, death threats it recorded 9 perpetrated by the TFG, Somaliland, Al-Shabaab.
Kidnapping, NUSOJ recorded 1 perpetrated by Al-Shabaab; while 5 of its members underwent Legal action: Conviction and Fine perpetrated by Somaliland; it added that 4 were injured by Al-Shabaab fighters; and 6 others Arrested by Somaliland, TFG, and Puntland.
Somaliland: An Affront to Freedom of the Press
NUSOJ also said it is deeply concerned about the charges levelled against several journalists in Somaliland in the past six months. Legal actions against journalists for their journalism work and the resultant arrests are totally based on complaints lodged by public officials of Somaliland. 
At least three Somaliland Ministers filed defamation lawsuits against five private newspapers and their editors in the past six months. Journalists in Hargeisa explained that this is a worrying trend of suppression of independent reporting and criticisms through judicial intimidation, which has created a climate of fear among journalists and restricted the openness of the public officials with journalists in Somaliland.
NUSOJ protested these legal persecutions against Somaliland journalists who sometimes find themselves unable to exercise their rights to freedom of the press. The ongoing persecutions also raised serious questions on the impartiality, integrity and independence of the judiciary of Somaliland.
NUSOJ appeals to Somaliland to revert the current trend of judicial harassments against journalists, which are increasing in scale, and guarantee the freedom of the press by expediting important legislative reforms including the decriminalization of defamation.
Mogadishu: Brutal Attacks on Journalists and Media Houses
Considering persistence of brutality and impunity, as well as the repeated attacks against journalists and media houses in Mogadishu, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) falls short to take effective measures to prevent attacks on or harassments of journalists.
Since May 2010, NUSOJ documented 29 cases of number of journalists who were attacked or threatened by Al-Shabaab forces and security forces as well as politicians of the Transitional Federal Government. Journalists have been briefly detained, beaten up and even threatened. Media houses were taken over illegitimately and closed down for specified period.
TFG, not only failed to carry out a effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into attacks against journalists, including killings, but also perpetrated attacks against journalists by arresting Radio Shabelle journalists, forcing radio journalists to censor themselves from reporting sensitive issues and even propelling efforts to undermine and weaken the National Union of Somali Journalists to undermine the voice of journalists.
While Al-Shabaab and other armed groups committed serious violations of press freedom, NUSOJ states grave concern at the capacity and the willingness of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to respect their obligations under Transitional Federal Charter and the international law.
NUSOJ demands the TFG to end the harsh and oppressive tactics of its political figures, police, army and intelligence services, which are designed to intimidate and frustrate journalists. Source - NUSOJ

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