NUSOJ Condemns “Illegitimate Attempts” to undermine the Journalists’ movement
31 May 2011
The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) strongly condemns the “illegitimate attempts” by the Ministry of Information of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) to undermine the legitimacy and the work of the leadership of NUSOJ.
In a flagrant act of interfering with trade union affairs, an official of the Ministry of Information convened and chaired a “General Assembly” on 28 May for less than 10 journalists close to or working at the Ministry of Information in serious violation for the principles and rules of the International Labour Organization (ILO), including the principle of trade union independence enshrined in Convention 87.
This assembly, composed of a small group of people who were mostly not journalists nor the genuine members of the union, claimed to have removed the legitimate leadership of NUSOJ and proceeded to appoint new leaders. NUSOJ says this move was designed to jeopardise the union’s work and undermine its credibility.
“This is a serious and illegitimate move by the Ministry of Information which is putting at risk the unity of Somali journalists and future of their union,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ General Secretary.
Representatives from Ministry of Information recently attempted to bring charges against NUSOJ through the Office of the Attorney General for unfair media practices, with the aim of destroying the union by legal means. Officials from the Ministry of Information paid visits several times in March 2011 to the Regional court of Banadir and district court to obtain legal actions against the union and its leadership.
The Officials repeatedly claimed that they no longer recognise legitimate leadership of the union and have sided with two former employees of the union who purport to represent an alternative leadership of the union. Officials of the Ministry told journalists that they cannot accept a union functioning like another parallel Ministry in the country.
“The Ministry of Information has no right to install a new leadership by force and decree the union’s leadership. Moreover, the individuals the Ministry wants to install have not only been officially dismissed from the union as employees but have also been expelled from the union membership based on the union’s constitutional proceedings and regulations” declared Osman.
Minister of Information Abdikarim Jama told the union that he had received a complaint from Western diplomatic mission of “improper financial dealings” by the union’s leadership. However, an inquiry by NUSOJ leadership with the mission concerned proved the Minister’s calm was not substantiated. The union regrets that Minister Jama maintains baseless allegations in a bid to undermine the union’s legitimate work and leadership.
“The Ministry’s campaign to threaten, defame and discredit our leadership and our entire union must stop,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. “Jama is continuing this campaign of denigration to justify what his representatives and employees are doing against us daily”. “”This kind of campaign of irresponsible statements to create and propagate false information to destroy our union’s reputation, leadership and integrity will not succeed.” added Osman.
The Ministry of Information demanded NUSOJ to pay $1500 as registration fee in February but the union refused because it is registered with the Ministry of Labour and therefore the union should not pay any fees at all. This triggered a campaign at the Ministry of Labour waged by individuals sponsored by the Ministry of Information against NUSOJ and its elected leadership.
Last week an official in the workers’ division at the Ministry of Labour summoned NUSOJ executives to warn them that the union will be disbanded and the TFG President will appoint the union leaders by “presidential decree”. This official further threatened that the union’s registration with the Labour Ministry would be cancelled immediately if its work proves to be inconsistent with the government policy.
NUSOJ calls on the TFG President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed to intervene in the matter and to stop the Ministry of Information’s interference in the trade union’s affairs. The union believes that the government officials want to seize the opportunity with both hands to get rid of the leadership of the union.
The journalists who are members of the union but working at Radio Mogadishu, a government controlled radio station, were threatened for dismissal if they do not take part in the campaign of the Ministry of Information against the legitimate leadership or do not help systematic obstruction against the union.
National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is a national union representing Somali journalists to promote and protect freedom of the press and the interests and rights of journalists. It is a member of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Freedom of Expression exchange (IFEX), Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) and Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA). NUSOJ is partner with Reporters without Borders (RWB).