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IFJ highlights media safety crisis at international conference on Somalia

(IFJ/IFEX) - 8 February 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on representatives of the international community gathered at a conference on Somalia, organised by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office at Wilton Park, UK, to give priority to measures to protect journalists in Somalia as the transitional period of the Transitional Federal Government comes to an end in August 2011.

The conference "Building Stability, Accepting Reality" brings together representatives of the Somali authorities, the UN Security Council members, the European Union, Japan, the African Union and the Arab League to discuss how to assist Somalia at the end of the transitional period.

"We are extremely concerned about the continued threats faced by Somali journalists which are likely to escalate once the transitional period is over," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "The international community must ensure that any arrangements put in place give high priority to the protection of Somali journalists."

During the transitional period, Somalia became the most deadly country for journalists in Africa with 22 journalists murdered for carrying out their media work. Journalists have been subject to harassment, arrest and assault while covering the bloody armed conflict in the country.

The IFJ has for many years supported its affiliate, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), in monitoring and thoroughly documenting the attacks against journalists and press freedom violations in Somalia. "The current lawlessness continues to endanger the lives of journalists and this must be reversed urgently," added Boumelha.

The IFJ and its affiliates worldwide have given continuous support to its affiliate, NUSOJ, to protect and defend journalists under threat throughout this transitional period.

"The rising tide of violence against journalists in Somalia for this period is very much worrying," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General and IFJ Executive Committee member.

The IFJ once again urges all Somali political leaders to uphold the right to freedom of expression, and the right of Somali and foreign journalists to do their job without hindrance or fear of harassment.

The period of the Transitional Federal Institutions of the Transitional Government and Transitional Parliament ends on 20 August.

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