Somalia: Trade Unions Say Hands-Off to Minister of Justice for Aiding and Abetting Human and Labour Rights Violations

press release

The Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) is outraged at the blatant disrespect displayed by the Minister of Justice Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur towards Somalia's labour laws. The Minister's gross interference in labour relations between FAVORI LLC and workers, clearly demonstrates his lack of commitment to upholding Somalia's laws as well as his lack of concern for the wellbeing and quality of life of Somali workers.

For much of 2020, FESTU has been representing the interest of workers in the face of varied and relentless labour rights violations at FAVORI LLC. After the federation continued to mount pressure on the employer to cease its abusive and unlawful actions, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs affirmed the workers' concerns and determined that employment contracts issued by FAVORI to its Somali workers are not compliant to the Somali labour code and the international labour standards.

While this was encouraging and strengthened FESTU's argument that FAVORI LLC should comply with the laws of the land, the actions of the Minister of Justice are clearly designed to sabotage and undermine the labour relations process underway. This type of despicable action is almost beyond comprehension. Political figures in the Somali government are mandated to protect the rights of the Somali people; their work should centre around ultimately empowering and improving the lives of the poor and downtrodden citizens. On the contrary, the Minister of Justice is in fact, protecting an unscrupulous employer and frustrating a process designed to bring economic relief and increased morale to workers.

"We consider this type of meddling by the Minister of Justice tantamount to corruption as it is an abuse of power, breaches the laws of the country and is deliberately attempting to reverse any gains workers have made. In this way, inequality, poverty and exploitation continue to flourish with impunity" said Omar Faruk Osman, FESTU general secretary.

"FESTU will not stand for such flagrant disregard for workers' rights," stresses Osman. "Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble must remove his Justice Minister from labour relations and instruct the implicated Minister to cease forthwith undermining workers' rights as it is evident that his empathies and favour are inclined towards an exploitative employer as opposed to workers themselves who are simply demanding respect for their human and labour rights as protected by the constitution of Somalia, Somali Labour Code and the International Labour Standards."

"Knowing full well his nefarious role in the spy agency in 2017 and his reprehensible human rights record, we are unapologetic in pointing out that the current Minister of Justice is an embarrassment to the government and comes out brazenly to protect the interest of a foreign company that refuses to comply the laws of the country and advocates for the suppression of the rights of Somali citizens in exchange of personal gains. The time has come for the President and the Prime Minister to boldly confront this reality and end this national disgrace," added Osman.

It is a shame that although 2020 redefined the concept and practice of work and also affirmed the role that work and workers play in sustaining Somali society, the Minister of Justice still fails to recognise the humanity and value of workers. It is a painful and cruel irony that the Minister's actions directly contradict his justice portfolio and aims to ensure that workers do not in fact, enjoy justice.

However, FESTU will not be deterred. "We are, in fact, even more energized and committed in our fight for workers in FAVORI LLC and will continue with our efforts until the situation is resolved and workers receive justice. We shall lodge an international campaign on this" declared Osman.

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