The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has today launched a national campaign for freedom of expression and responsible journalism in a press conference held in Mogadishu with the presence of the Federal Government of Somalia.
Among others, the campaign stresses full respect for freedom of expression which is a critical factor in the upcoming elections but also highlights the dangers posed by hate speech to democratic values, social stability and peace.
With the support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the campaign comes against the backdrop of the upcoming elections where journalists need a conducive environment in which they can conduct their duties without interference and in safety.
Targeting stakeholders in the democratic process, the campaign will highlight the values of professional and independent journalism, responsibilities of the political actors, government institutions and regional authorities in the electoral process in close coordination with AMISOM’s Political Affairs Office to effectively advocate for peaceful elections.
“This campaign aims to preserve societal rights of freedom of expression and advocates for peaceful elections. But we also want to emphasise that rights come with responsibilities and the media must guard against becoming purveyors and conveyors of hate speech and incitement to violence,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
Journalists will be reminded of their professional obligations, get refresher training while the political actors will be cautioned not to abuse media platforms including social media by making inflammatory and unsubstantiated claims that seek to frame their opponents or sections of society negatively.
Speaking at the Press Conference, on behalf of the Federal Government of Somalia, Somali Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Osman Abokor Dubbe said “Our government is very committed to protecting freedom of expression and particularly ensuring the safety and security of journalists. We similarly want our journalists to play an effective role in promoting peace and practicing responsible journalism during the elections”.
“We welcome the campaign to combat hate speech and promote freedom of expression, and we want to applaud NUSOJ and AMISOM for this principled initiative at this critical time of the country. Every citizen of this country has a right to enjoy the right to free expression without resorting to hate speech and incitement of hostilities,” added Minister Osman Dubbe.
Faruk added: “We stand for professional and responsible journalism and we call on the government, ordinary citizens and the international community to ensure that journalists are protected during the elections. We say no to hate speech and condemn any efforts to subvert the media from their noble mission.”
“We also call upon media owners, editors and fellow journalists to put into practice the ethical guidelines of the profession to guarantee responsible journalism in election coverage” added Faruk.