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Resolution on safety of Somali journalists adopted by UN Human Rights Council

(IFJ/IFEX) - 28 September 2012 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today praised the United Human Rights Council for adopting a resolution on "Assistance to Somalia in the Field of Human Rights". The resolution was adopted by the 21st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The resolution, which was tabled by Senegal on behalf of the African Group that comprises African member States of the UN, strongly condemned "all attacks on journalists, including the deadly terror attack on 20 September and the assassination on 21 September of a prominent journalist in Mogadishu." It also "calls upon the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia to protect the safety of journalists; and calls on all states to provide the necessary technical assistance to the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia, the sub-national authorities, the National Union of Somali journalists (NUSOJ) and individual journalist in this regard; and urges the State actors and non-State actors to refrain from intentional violence against and harassment of journalists and to respect freedom of expression."

"We are encouraged to see that the terrible situation our Somali colleagues have endured for far too long is being addressed for the first time by the UN Human Rights Council," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "This is also a ringing endorsement of the IFJ member union, the National Union of Somali Journalists, for its tireless campaign for the safety of its members."

The Human Rights Council's resolution emphasised "the need to hold perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses accountable, and to bring them to justice." The IFJ said that the brutal murder of another journalist who was beheaded in Somalia yesterday served as a reminder of the safety crisis in Somali media. The organisation called on the international community to move beyond mere words of condemnation and condolences and work toward making the protection of Somali journalists and the independence of its union from all political forces, including unscrupulous employers, a reality.

"Our affiliate, NUSOJ, has proved once more that it is the only real, credible and legitimate voice for journalists and journalism in this war-ravaged country and if Somalia is to rebuild itself it cannot be achieved without journalists enjoying their fundamental rights of free expression and association," added Boumelha.

The IFJ commends the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Somalia to the United Nations and its specialised agencies in Geneva and Switzerland, Yusuf Mohamed Ismail Bari-Bari, for his understanding of the dangerous state of journalism in his country and the urgency to protect freedom of expression, and his commitment to protect and promote human rights, particularly the safety and security of journalists.

"Our lengthy negotiations on the draft text of this resolution with the Somali delegation as well as with the African group of ambassadors and international partners of Somalia have in the end borne out successful results, and we should now concentrate on ensuring that these important decisions are fully implemented " said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General, who has taken part in the discussions at the Council.


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