The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has strongly condemned the attempted murder yesterday in Mogadishu of Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary general of its member union in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).
According to reports, Osman was entering the union's office in the Taleh area in Mogadishu when his car was sprayed with bullets by gunmen and he only owed his life to the quick thinking of his body guards, one of them was wounded in the attack as well two pedestrians.
"The IFJ is shocked by this attempt on the life of the leader of our union in Somalia and his escape was nothing short of a miracle," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "This terrible incident exposes the challenge of building a strong independent union in a country ruined by 20 years of conflict, and where press freedom is frequently violated, where major State institutions are either weak or missing, and where the rule of law is overwhelmed by the men of violence."
The IFJ will join its member union in the UK, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), in alerting officials at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British government to remind them of their call urging the authorities in Somalia "to prohibit, prevent and protect against all harassment of journalists" and the security institutions to "work to protect the rights of Somali citizens, including human rights defenders such as journalists".
"This is the latest example of the continued threats to journalists and media workers in Somalia and the ongoing attempts to undermine press freedom and freedom of expression," said IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger. "The IFJ welcomes the investigation initiated by the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), but reminded them that they must act swiftly and decisively in this and all cases that have been building up for years in Somalia."
Speculating about the masterminds behind the shooting, Somali journalists have reminded their audiences that the assassination attempt comes a day after Omar Faruk denounced a controversial media law passed by the Somali parliament on Monday by describing it as a threat to media freedom in Somalia and called on the Somali president not to sign it.
Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists to work in the world and Omar Faruk and his union NUSOJ have been at the forefront of lobbying for better rights of journalists and freedom of expression.
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