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UN adopts resolution on protection of media rights in Somalia

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has welcomed the recent resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in Somalia.

According to IFJ records, Somalia is the deadliest country for journalists in Africa. The resolution, called "Assistance to Somalia in the Field of Human Rights" and adopted by consensus of the member states of the council, includes support for the protection of journalists and their rights in the country.

The resolution expresses "deep concern at the continuing attacks and abuses against journalists in Somalia, urges all parties to refrain from violence against and harassment of journalists and to respect freedom of expression, and underscores the need to end impunity, uphold human rights and hold accountable those who commit any such related crimes".

The resolution from the 24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council session, which was attended and addressed by a delegation from IFJ affiliate, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), also "strongly condemns the grave and systematic human rights abuses perpetrated against the civilian population, including women, children, journalists and human rights defenders, by Al-Shabaab and its affiliates, and calls for their immediate cessation".

Commenting on the resolution, IFJ President Jim Boumelha said: "This decision of the twenty-fourth-session of the Human Rights Council on Somalia is very welcome news and shows the commitment of the international community to address the plight of Somali journalists.

"We need this resolution and other previous decisions, as well as political commitments, to be turned into concrete actions so that our colleagues working in Somalia feel safe on the ground, the families of killed journalists receive justice, and the freedom of association of journalists is respected and protected."

The resolution was adopted three days after the Council held a High-level Stand-alone Interactive Dialogue on Somalia on 24 September 2013, which was addressed by the Prime Minister of Somalia, Abdi Farah Shirdoon.

In a statement at this meeting, Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General, said: "Despite the decrease in the killings of journalists, compared to previous years, Somalia's independent media community remains under increasing threat in many regions of the country.

"We believe that promoting respect for human rights, especially freedom of expression and freedom of association, is essential for Somalia's immediate and long-term development."

Mohamed Abdi Mohamed, Managing Director of Horn Cable TV, a member of the NUSOJ delegation, also testified at the meeting, and said: "Journalists across the country continue to be denied the rights to freely and independently associate. There continues to be systematic state abuses, and denial and erosion of journalists' right to freely, independently and democratically join and run their own National Union of Somali Journalists."

The IFJ renews its backing for NUSOJ's calls for the protection of the safety of journalists, an end to impunity and respect for the freedom of association of journalists and other media workers in Somalia.

The resolution, which was tabled by the Ambassador of Somalia to the United Nations, Mr Yusuf Mohamed Ismail Bari Bari, earned cross-continental backing from member states, together with national, regional and international civil society groups. Ambassador Bari Bari expressed his government's "staunch support for the accountability of human rights abuses" and the need to improve the protection and safety of journalists.

The Council called on the Federal Government of Somalia "to initiate effective and impartial investigations into the killings of journalists, to prosecute all those responsible in a manner consistent with applicable domestic and international legal obligations, and to create security and space for a free press to operate."

The IFJ urges the federal government of Somalia to swiftly commence implementation of the Post-Transition Human Rights Roadmap to end ongoing human rights abuses against journalists and wider society.

Click here to download the resolution "Assistance to Somalia in the Field of Human Rights,"from the 24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council session.

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