The National Union of Journalists of Great Britain and Ireland (NUJ) has condemned the growing crackdown against journalists and trade union leaders in Somalia, that has included the jailing of prominent journalists and threats made against the National Union of Somali Journalist’s general secretary Omar Faruk Osman Nur by the Somalian Minister of information Mustaf Sheikh Ali Dhuholow.
Following the NUSOJ’s public statements over a proposed new media law – which in its present state and without significant reform cannot be seen as anything other than repressive – the minister of information made a personal call to the NUSOJ general secretary and said: “This country is insecure and unstable because of you and you have said many things about me and my work. I want to tell you that I will take action against you immediately.”
Mr Osman Nur was later called in for questioning. Separately, the chair of the Shabelle Media Network has been arrested and detained along with two other journalists.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said:
“The escalating situation in Somalia is of deep concern to the NUJ and we are monitoring the situation closely and calling on the British and Irish governments to do all they can to establish an end to this unacceptable intimidation of journalists and their elected trade union leaders.
“For a minister of state to personally call up the NUSOJ general secretary and threaten to take action against him because of the union’s work in opposing the proposed new media law is outrageous, and cannot be seen as anything other than intimidation to silence debate on a critical piece of new legislation.
“It is clear from the efforts to introduce such repressive legislation that the government of Somalia is bent on suppressing the rights of journalists to do their job properly. The citizens of Somalia need more journalism and open discourse at a critical juncture in their country’s history.
“Deliberate and crude attempts to silence journalists and quash legitimate debate are an outrage and will not be ignored by the international community.”
Delegates gathering In Belfast at the Global Solidarity Conference of the Irish Trade Union Congress this weekend expressed their concern at unfolding events in Somalia and sent a strong message of support and solidarity to the NUSOJ and its general secretary Omar Faruk Osman Nur.