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IFJ welcomes landmark ACHPR resolution on protection of journalists

(IFJ/IFEX) - 4 May 2012 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today welcomed the unanimous decision of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) in adopting a landmark resolution, at its meeting of 2 May in Banjul, Gambia, on attacks targeting journalists in Somalia. Farhan James Abdulle was the latest journalist to be gunned down in Galkayo in central Somalia on the eve of World Press Freedom Day.

The resolution, which "condemns the continued killings of journalists" in Somalia, calls on "Somali authorities and all armed groups to end ongoing violations against journalists, media practitioners and media organisations".

Somalia's media community is facing the worst onslaught in its history. Five journalists were murdered in Somalia since January 2012, and media houses attacked and some taken over. The National Union of Somali journalists (NUSOJ), an IFJ affiliate, and its elected officials have been the victim of targeted attacks to destabilise them and throw doubt on their leadership. NUSOJ has been aggressively campaigning to force the African Commission to address the worsening state of the safety of Somali journalists.

"It is indeed good news for the African Commission on Human and People's Rights to show the lead in addressing the monstrous crimes against the journalists of Somalia, media houses and their union. The African Union's commission must now act and force the authorities in Somalia to fulfill their duty as government to protect journalists and end impunity," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President.

The resolution, adopted unanimously, backs calls made by the IFJ, NUSOJ and press freedom organisations for an independent commission of inquiry by calling on "Somali authorities, the AU and the international community to support the establishment of an Independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate the killings of journalists and other violent attacks against them, so as to end the culture of impunity".

"We did everything possible to make sure that African Commission on Human and People's Rights acts swiftly on this precariously dangerous situation that is happening in our country. Violent attacks and killings of journalists has become an easy mean to cower them in total impunity. When Islamists want to silence journalists they name them as 'traitors' and when Somali authorities want to gag them they call them 'terrorists' as a means to make journalists legitimate targets," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

IFJ congratulates the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR), in particular Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and Access to Information of the ACHPR.

"We commend NUSOJ for the work well done and we will make sure that this resolution is taken on board by the Somali government and implemented," added Boumelha.

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