Somalia is the deadliest country in the world for journalists. As many as 15 were killed this year while many others were forced to flee for their lives, Omar Farouk Osman, general secretary of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), told delegates.
Somalia has a bad name, he said. "All you hear of is the violence, war, blood and conflict. It is a very difficult place for journalists to work. They cannot report dissenting voices, media organisations are closed down and death threats are constant. But also, many journalists work in appalling conditions for unscrupulous employers.
Omar Farouk Osman Photo: Mark Pinder
"The NUJ is a union that has stood up for the human rights of our colleagues in Somalia and in other parts of Africa. We need your political support – it is more important than financial support. The UK can play an important role."
DM unanimously voted to pass a motion to launch a global petition in support of NUSOJ members working for RBK, a UN-funded radio station in Nairobi. It said: "DM is appalled by reports that Albany Associates, a British PR company which manages RBK, has been treating the Somali journalists it employs at the station, denying them basic union rights."
DM also heard from Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, campaigns officer at Burma Campaign UK, and the daughter of Ko Mya Aye, who was given a 65-year jail sentence for his part in the 2007 protests. He was released this January, however Wai Hnin said the battle for freedom still go on.
She said: "People think that Burma is now a good news story. But the fact is that censorship remains. Journalists in Burma have to work under the strictest censorship rules in the world. They have to self-censor because they fear their media organisation being closed down. They are not allowed to criticise the government or its human rights abuses. Our struggle for freedom and democracy is not over."
Delegates also heard from Barry White, member of the European Federation of Journlaists steering committee, who spoke of the plight of Turkish journalists, 76 of whom have been imprisoned (for more information see here
He said the NUJ would be organising a protest at the Turkish embassy in London.
Jim Boumelha, President of the Internationa Federation of Journalists,
commended by DM Photo: Mike Pinder
Motions also passed in the international section included:
• "DM implores that journalists and media employees continue to be targeted, brutalised and killed in every corner of the globe. Last year the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) recorded a list of 106 journalists killed with Pakistan, Mexico and Iraq topping the list of the most dangerous countries." The motion commended the work of the IFJ in exposing these abuses and the crucial importance of its Safety Fund which acts "as a lifeline to journalists in distress".
• The IFJ was also commended for its work in lobbying for the release of kidnapped journalists, including Romeo Langlois, who had been held by armed forces in Colombia and Herve Ghesquiere and Stephane Taponier kidnapped in Afghanistan.
• The NEC was instructed to work with the IFJ to publicise the plight of the majority of the Shia community in Bahrain.
• The NEC was instructed to support campaigns initiated by the NUJ/IFJ defending the jobs in news agencies. It said: "This DM deplores the continuing threats facing journalists working for news agencies after the hundreds of recent redundancies accompanied by the closure of a number of non-Anglophone services."