At least 100 Reporters, Editors and Media Directors have staged public protest against the recent High court verdict against their union (NUSOJ) in Mogadishu on Monday to show and stand with solidarity, saying the verdict goes against the constitution and hint irregularities in the due process.
Organized by the Somali Independent Media Houses Association (SIMHA), Network Shabakada 2013 and supported by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), the event proved the unity among the Somali media practitioners.
The Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim that the verdict violates the very basic constitutional rights granted by the Somali Federal constitutional, making both NUSOJ and its leadership victims of injustice, while he warmly welcomed the solidarity shown by the Somali Media fraternity.
Article 107, sections 3 of the judicial procedure of Somali constitution states that, “No judicial decision shall be made unless all parties have had the opportunity to present their case.” And “Reasons shall be given for all judicial decisions.”
“It was very surprise to us to hear such decision from the high court, without being notified, not given the opportunity for defense.” Mohamed Ibrahim, NUSOJ Secretary General said, “How can a court case, which we are not the concerned parties in the first place, can effect us their decision”.
“The verdict threatens Our freedom of Association and our constitutional rights and our lawyers will respond immediately and will file a complaint to the High Court.” Mr. Ibrahim added.
According to Mr. Ibrahim, he told the solidarity gathering in Mogadishu that the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) will be represented at high court by a veteran lawyer, Avv. Abdulkadir Mohamed Muse.
The Deputy Director of Shabakada Network 2013, Ismail Sheikh Khalifa who spoke at the event called the verdict miscarriage of justice and called the high court to quash its verdict, reminding that the union is an independent legal entity owned by the Somali journalists and their internal democracy deserve respect.
“We e are today to show solidarity and support to NUSOJ and its Secretary General, Mohamed Ibrahim, a true human rights defender and press freedom fighter.”” Ismail Sheikh Khalifa said, “We present the previous elections of the union and will be present where the union will either re-elect or elect new leadership.”
Mohamed Barre Haji Fiyoore, the deputy Director of Somali Independent Media Houses Association (SIMHA), who is the former president of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and one of the founders of NUSOJ said that “It was apparent that the case has been misled in the first place by the claimants lawyers, so Imagine how many victims who can not speak out or are voiceless could fall such trap.
“This is a very heartbreaking decision and shows a clear picture how is our justice system works.” Mohamed Barre Haji Fiyoore, SIMHA Deputy Director said at the solidarity conference held in Mogadishu, “I call on the Somali President, speaker and prime minister to immediately reform the justice.”
“As long as our justice system is corrupt, peace will never prevail. Injustice is what put our country in turmoil more than two decades.” Mr. Fiyoore added.
The Director of Mustaqbal radio, Ahmed Isse Guutaale, who spoke at the solidarity gathering in Mogadishu’s Gaabow hotel stressed that, “The high court can not dictate the Somali journalists over their leadership and called the verdict, violates the constitutional”.
Among other speakers, Abdifatah Hassan Farah, who leads the Galgadud Journalists association in central Somalia pointed out that NUSOJ does not give them financial support referring to the journalists based in central Somalia but only supports NUSOJ and its current leadership for their transparency model of leadership as they made us feel a sense of ownership.
“NUSOJ has defended and supported the journalists in central Somalia and are quick to respond when our press freedom are attacked.” Abdifatah Hassan Adan, Chairman of Galgadud Journalists Associatin who is based in Guri’el said, “Mohamed Ibrahim and his team were on the loop, when one of us gets arrested or media station attacked until they are released and used to share when important decisions of the union arise.”
The media fraternity who met in Mogadishu called the High court and the chief justice to quash the verdict in support of the unity and respect the legitimate leadership they democratically elected.
On the other hand, the media fraternity urged the Somali president, the speaker and the prime ministers to urgently interfere the situation since the verdict goes against the constitution and the freedom of Association Act and guarantee the media freedoms. The participants of the event held up slogans that demonstrate the gathering. Some of the slogans included. “Our Constitutional are violated.” “#Quash Your Verdict.” “Respect Journalists’ Right to Freedom Association.” Among other things and created a Hashtag on twitter #Savesomalijournalists).
On the other hand, similar protests to held in the towns Jowhar, Middle Shabelle region, Beletwein, Hiiraan region, Dhusamareb, Boosaaso, Afgoi, Lower Shabelle region to mention a few.
The media fraternity who opposed the high court decision against their union jointly called
Both the Somali government, the International community, donor community and the United Nations to immediately interfere the situation with respect to the Somali journalists whose freedoms of Association and constitutional rights were violated, ahead of the uncertain situation of 2016 elections to keep the follow of the independent voices alive.
The media fraternity also thanked who all those who have shown support and solidarity both locally and internationally.