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Journalists launch action plan to counter media oppression

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - 30 November 2009 - Somali media and journalist associations decided on a cooperative action plan to counter the growing oppression of the media in Somalia. In 2009, six Somali journalists have been killed, others have been detained and several stations have been closed or taken over by armed groups.

More than 30 independent media houses, representing all parts of the Somali-speaking territories, signed a joined declaration calling for the establishment of a training and solidarity centre for reporters to handle security issues, arrests, corruption and biased reporting. Such a solidarity centre would document harassment, arbitrary arrests, imprisonment and torture of reporters, closure of radio stations and killings of journalists. It would collect detailed reports and evidence to end the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators.

The Somali journalists also decided to form a media collective to help the independent media to disseminate their news. Several radio stations based in all Somali-speaking territories will seek close cooperation. The stations committed to sharing their news through a central desk at a safe location. The collected materials will be redistributed to all the partnering stations. A structural training program to enhance the professional skills of the media sector will be included in the project. Some stations based in the most restricted areas are considering building a re-broadcasting station that would not be able to be controlled by any of the warring parties.

In their declaration, the Somali-speaking media houses and journalists organizations requested the Netherlands-based media development organization Press Now to develop a detailed work plan for the implementation of the centre. The journalists and media representatives gathered for three days of intense but fruitful debate and discussed practical solutions for the crisis of the Somali media. The Somali Media Development Conference was co-hosted by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and Press Now in Nairobi, Kenya, from 27 to 29 November 2009.

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