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Kenyan High Court bars Finnish NGOs from using EU funds to bankroll an impostor

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The High Court of Kenya in Nairobi has issued yesterday an injunction following an application from the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) barring two NGOs from Finland from giving funds to a Somali national, Mohamed Ibrahim, who has been claiming to be the leader of the said union.

Honourable Lady Justice Grace Nzioka, who presided over the case, was satisfied with NUSOJ lawyers arguments and orderedTHAT a temporally injunction order be and is hereby issued restraining the 2nd and 3rd Defendants (VIKES and FCA) by themselves, their agents or servants from associating with the 1st Defendant (Mohamed Ibrahim) purportedly as an official of the Plaintiff, restraining them from recognizing the 1st Defendant as a representative of the Plaintiff and or by disbursing any funds or donor support meant to be channeled to the Plaintiff union and or from engaging with the Plaintiff to the exclusion of its Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman as stated in its Trademarks and its President of the Supreme Council Abdi Adan Guled pending the inter parties hearing and determination of this application.

The two NGOs, the Finnish Foundation for Media and Development (Viestintä ja kehitys -säätiö ‘Vikes') and Finnish Church Aid (FCA), teamed up to allocate a project in Somalia to an individual, Mohamed Ibrahim, who has been using the name of the union as the local implementing partner. VIKES received a grant from the Nairobi-based European Union delegation to Somalia, while purportedly claiming that NUSOJ is its co-beneficiary.

NUSOJ leaders initiated legal proceedings against VIKES, FCA and Mohamed Ibrahim in a Kenyan court, given that they applied for the funding from the EU Delegation to Somalia based in Kenya, the said grant was approved in Kenya and the project is managed by an EU mission based in Kenya.

“The High Court has dealt a rare legal blow to Finnish NGOs which, while claiming to be working to boost human rights and media freedom in Somalia, ended up supporting the identity theft of our union, and the implementation of fraudulent activities in our union’s name” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. “This would be unconscionable in a country like Finland but in Somalia, the breakdown of the rule of law and the globally-known egregious human rights violations allowed them to use the name of a union without consent of the rightful owners in order to bankroll an impostor”.

The allocation of a grant by the European Union to VIKES to finance this project has been strongly challenged by the International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC), European Trade Unions Confederation (ETUC), Council of Nordic Trade Unions (NSF), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the trade union confederations of Italy.

On 5 July 2018, NUSOJ won support from the European Parliament which condemned violations of freedom of expression and freedom of association against NUSOJ, and argued for the decisions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) – which reaffirmed the legitimacy and the legality of NUSOJ and its leadership – to be implemented fully.

This legal challenge is one of many actions that NUSOJ is undertaking to stop violations of freedoms of expression and of association by anti-trade union elements who are receiving the backing of unscrupulous NGOs, and to protect its name and identity.