Regional Conference on Peace and Safety for Somali Media ends with strong call for “safe working conditions for Somali journalists”

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has in joint collaboration with the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) organised a three-day regional conference on peace and safety for Somali Media in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 22-24 May 2013.

The conference was organised to address the issue of peace building in Somalia and the role of the media in this efforts. The meeting was also designed to set the stage for ensuring safe and enabling working environments for Somali journalists.

Speaking at the conference, the NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman said, “Media has crucial role in promoting in our country but the Somali media needs peace for it to have the moral to foster peace”. “This is an important opportunity for Somali journalists, editors and directors to address the issue of safety of journalists in different parts of the country”.

Dr Muheldin Ahmed Idris, President of Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA) said, “We are extremely disturbed to see senseless murder of journalists in Somalia, which has seen a number of devastating attacks on the media with total impunity in the past three years”. “We urge our Somali brothers and sisters in the media to help build peace in their home land but we also demand that they get safe environment for them to promote this peace”.

Honorable Netsannet Asfaw, the Director of Peace and Security of IGAD told the conference “each time a journalist is silenced in Somalia – either through threats or by being killed, it is an attack on the Somali citizen’s right to information, which is a key enabling right for peaceful, stable and democratic Somalia”.

Honourable Asfaw strongly condemned the targeted attacks on journalists by Al-Shabaab extremists to the Somali journalists and extended solidarity to families and colleagues of the 50 journalists killed since 2007.

Gabriel Baglo, Africa Director of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), expressed appreciation to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for taking the lead on this important initiative on peace and safety for Somali media and reiterated IFJ’s unswerving support to Somali media through its affiliate, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).

The conference brought together 45 journalists and media directors from Mogadishu, Jowhar, Beledweyne, Baidoa, Bossasso, Garowe, Galkayo, Hargeisa. Journalist leaders from Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Uganda attended the conference to share experiences with their Somali colleagues.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) also attended the meeting to address the plight working journalists and expressed solidarity to the victim media.

The conference adopted at the end a Regional Declaration on Peace and Safety for Somali Media