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NUSOJ welcomes UNHRC's decision to renew rights expert's mandate

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) welcomes with great joy the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to renew, on 2 October 2009, the mandate of Dr. Shamsul Bari, the UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Somalia. NUSOJ also calls on the UN body to turn its commitment in Somalia into action.

At its 12th session in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council adopted by consensus the resolution, which was co-sponsored by Nigeria on behalf of the African Group and Norway.

The resolution says in part that the "Human Rights Council decides to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of Human Rights in Somalia for a period of one year, with a view to maximizing the provision and flow of technical assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights in order to support Transitional Federal Government and Regional Authorities to ensure respect of Human Rights and strengthen the Human Rights regime in its work to complete the outstanding task of the transitional mandate, and requests the Independent Expert to submit a report also on the status of the implementation of the technical cooperation inside Somalia to the Council at its 13th and 15th sessions on the human rights situation in Somalia".

The UN body expressed its "deep concern over repeated attacks against journalists, civil society activists, and humanitarian workers (. . .)."

NUSOJ reiterates its call, which has for a long time been pushed also by the International Federation of Journalists, for the international community to set up an independent international inquiry into the killing of journalists in Somalia.

"Freedom of the press and the peoples' right to know have been encroached upon and violated. Journalists have been murdered in cold blood, intimidated, threatened with death and forced to leave their work and sometimes their country, resulting in repression of the right to free expression," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

NUSOJ praises the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) for having accepted and backed the push for the renewal of the mandate. It also commends the consensus with which the matter was handled at the Council's meeting.

"This is a sure show of solidarity with the suffering people in Somalia. But we must now move ahead by committing ourselves to action. The UN Rights Council must now step up efforts aimed at monitoring the situation on the ground," Osman said.

"Journalists and their media houses have been exposing violations of human rights, revealing the hard plight of the people, but then they were singled out and have been paying a high price. Impunity is stoking the heinous crimes (. . .). It is our conviction that the absence of the Expert in Somalia could have aggravated the situation with the escalating culture of impunity, which is deeply rooted and which undermines the work of journalists and the media, and the people of Somalia in general," Osman added.

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