Statement on High-LevelStand Alone Interactive Dialogue on Somalia at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland

As delivered by Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ)

Mister President
H.E. Abdi Farah Shirdoon, Prime Minister of Federal Government of Somalia
Distinguished Ambassadors

We welcome this opportunity to address the High-level Stand-alone interactive dialogue on Somalia at the 24th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

We also welcome the recognition by the Prime Minister of Somalia of the courage shown by Somali journalists who seek to ensure public accountability in the face of threats and reprisals.

Despite the decrease in the killings of journalists, compared to previous year, Somalia’s Independent media community remains under increasing threat in many regions of the country.

NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman addressing UN HRC
NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman addressing UN HRC

Six media workers were murdered in cold blood since the start of the year. Mogadishu and Galkayo are still dangerous places for journalists. All of the murdered media practitioners worked for the broadcast media. Nine journalists were arbitrarily arrested and detained over their reporting. Media houses were shut down or their operations suspended. CID police officers continue to intimidate and harass journalists.

At least 12 Somali journalists have fled targeted attacks and politically motivated prosecution during this year. A new draft media law threatens to dramatically erode freedom of expression. If passed in its current form, it would undermine protection of sources and practice of independent journalism. The draft law is an attack on media freedom and pluralism.

We are concerned of intimidation of media from the Ministry of Information of the Federal government of Somalia by summoning journalists and managers of media as well as undermining independent media houses and critical journalists. 

In particular, we consider unacceptable attempts by the Ministry and other government officials to deny the National Union of Somali Journalists the right to freedom of association. Abuse of public offices result in suppression of freedom of expression. 

The Prime Minister’s attendance of this high-level session highlights federal government’s accomplishments. We believe that the promoting respect for human rights, especially freedom of expression and freedom of association is essential for Somalia’s immediate and long-term development.

We also urge the government to address the issue of impunity as a top priority.  An independent and impartial commission of inquiry into killings of journalists should be established to investigate and document serious crimes against journalists and recommend measures to improve accountability. This is crucial both as a potential deterrent to further violence as well as a critical step towards laying the groundwork for future justice and accountability.

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