The African Commission on Human & People’s Rights (ACHPR), Africa’s highest human rights body, adopted resolution on attacks of journalists and media practitioners in Somalia at its 15th Extra-Ordinary Session, from 7 to 14 March 2014, in Banjul, The Gambia.
This landmark resolution denounced “the serious violations of the right to life and freedom of expression that continue to prevail in the Federal Republic of Somalia”.
The African Commission expressed concern “about the restrictions and intimidations against the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) such as negative labelling, prosecution as well as physical harassment and intimidation of its members”.
The Commission was “deeply concerned by the continued killing of journalists and media practitioners in the Federal Republic of Somalia, where several media workers were killed with total impunity, in Mogadishu and Galkayo in 2013”.
The resolution specifies that the Commission:
“Strongly condemns the serious violations of the right to life committed against journalists and media practitioners in the Federal Republic of Somalia;
“Calls on the Somali authorities to respect, protect and promote the right to life, freedom of expression and freedom of association and assembly of journalists and media practitioners as provided in the African Charter and other international and regional human rights instruments;
“Calls on the Somali authorities and AMISOM to investigate the killing of journalists and media practitioners, and bring the perpetrators to justice;
“Appeals for the immediate cessation of harassment and intimidation aimed at independent media organisations, in particular the NUSOJ, in the Federal Republic of Somalia.”
NUSOJ salutes the African Commission and its distinguished Commissioners for taking action on the predicament of Somali journalists and their national union who suffered tremendously over the years of oppression and threats to their fundamental rights.
“We welcome the adoption of this Resolution by the African Commission and its recognition of attacks against journalists and our own union, NUSOJ who have been targeted for speaking out and fighting for the rights of journalists,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
The resolution puts to rest accusations that NUSOJ was bent on tarnishing the image of government officials in cahoots with external forces through peddling lies of obvious human and trade union rights abuses.
The union reiterates its call for gun tooting men to stop killing journalists and allow media professionals to enjoy their fundamental right to life and freedom of expression.
NUSOJ calls on the government officials using public offices to attack the union and its members to embrace the resolution and implement the calls and appeal laid out in the resolution.
“While we should not generalize all people in government, those using their authority negatively and abusively to attack the union and its journalists must create a better and peaceful future by accepting and owning up to their wrong doings. They should use this as a clean start that has been offered to them but it is only possible if they implement this resolution to the letter.”