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Journalists in danger in Somalia warns ITUC in Africa

16 February 2011

The International Trade Union Confederation's African regional organisation (ITUC-Africa) has warned about the safety of journalists covering the conflict and political crises in Somalia.

Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, ITUC-Africa general secretary, said:

"Reports reaching us suggest varying degrees of violations of the human and professional rights of journalists.
"We have been informed that some of them have been subjected to insults, torture, indiscriminate arrest, detention without trial and legal representation, threats, fatal attacks and destruction of their tools of trade.
"Reports reaching us from the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) indicated that journalists Mustaf Mohamed Ali, male reporter with Radio Voice of Democracy VOD, and Sadam Adan Mohamed, male reporter and photojournalist with Radio Shabelle, were injured by bombardment actions carried out by Al-Shabaab Islamists during a press conference.
"Earlier reports also informed that indiscriminate and whimsical arrests, detentions, raid and bombardments and threats have continued to be the lots of journalists working and reporting from Somalia. Journalists have largely become cannon fodder and pawns in the military exercise by the different factions as they continue to face different forms of attacks and violent actions.
"ITUC-Africa strongly condemns and deplores these violent attacks. It is our considered view that the media and media persons are a vital institution and professionals relevant and necessary for promoting and deepening democracy, accountability and good governance. It is their hallowed responsibility to provide societies with information and inputs necessary for making informed decision and actions. In this process they contribute to enlighten, educate and mobilise societies for national development.
"Their contributions and efforts have helped to continue to protect and promote civil liberties. ITUC-Africa is therefore concerned that these renewed attacks on journalists and media persons are part of the strategy to achieve forced or self-censorship from journalists and media outfits so that sponsors of these attacks can continue with their unacceptable undemocratic, bad governance and corrupt practices.
"We strongly condemn this tactic and strategy and call on authorities at regional and national levels to take genuine and practical actions to halt these attacks. Particularly, we urgently call on the African Union and the parties to the on-going crises in these countries to ensure that journalists and media persons in the line and course of duty are not subjected to any further repressive attacks.
"Furthermore, we demand that parties to the present armed conflict in Somalia make commitments and guarantees concerning the security and safety of journalists.
"Finally, ITUC-Africa demands that persons involved in these attacks and repressive actions against journalists and media persons should be urgently and thoroughly investigated, prosecuted and sanctioned accordingly.
"We will not accept the situation where rights violators continue to enjoy 'state immunity', thereby strengthening them to continue to operate with impunity. The culture of impunity must be arrested and reined in now and it is the duty of the states and governments to ensure this.
"As we continue to hope that situations will improve in Somalia and that a better working ambience will be provided for journalists, we make haste to salute the uncommon courage, zeal and professionalism of these men and women who daily toil to provide societies with news and information within the continent and around the world."

Tags: , safety, somalia, ituc, nusoj, death threats