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Minister harasses press freedom organization

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has expressed its "astonishment" at "hostile statements" made by information minister, Madobe Numow Mohamed, towards its partner organisation in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), on 3 and 6 October 2007.

Madobe Numow Mohamed said in a letter on 3 October, addressed to all international and local non-governmental organizations, that his ministry was the sole legitimate authority in press matters, adding "No NGO can shoulder responsibility for Somali journalism apart from the ministry of information" (sic).

In an interview given to Radio Shabelle on 6 October, the minister said that he "did not recognise the NUSOJ" and that the Somali organisation did not have the right to represent and organise journalists". He accused it of playing the "role of a ministry" and put the responsibility on it for all the problems of the Somali press "which need to be resolved".

"These statements are incomprehensible and worrying. RSF wishes to remind you that the NUSOJ has been a useful and effective partner in the reconstruction of Somalia since the creation of the transitional federal government which you head," the worldwide press freedom organisation said in a letter to the prime minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi on 10 October.

"It has ensured ongoing training and protection of Somalia journalists against a particularly difficult background. As a trade union, its role is to intervene in the affairs of the journalistic profession and, as a partner organisation of Reporters Without Borders, it has demonstrated extreme vigilance in the respect of Somalia's democratic rules.

"That is why the hostile statements by your minister of information are extremely worrying and require an explanation. We ask you to take steps to guarantee the security of the NUSOJ and its staff and to convince Madobe Numow Mohamed that our partner organisation is a legitimate and essential ally of the task which falls to your government," it added.

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