UN agency deplores the repetition of most violent crimes against trade unionists and journalists in Somalia

Geneva-based United Nations agency, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has deplored the “repetition of most violent crimes against trade unionists” and journalists in Somalia.

The ILO’s governing body at a meeting in Geneva on Thursday, 8 November 2018, adopted new set of decisions addressed to the Federal Government of Somalia on the basis of freedom of association violations complaint lodged by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) with the support of the International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC).

At its 334th session, the Governing Body of the ILO focused on the culture of impunity surrounding a case of a “very serious nature” such as arrest of the NUSOJ Vice-President; assassination attempt against the NUSOJ Secretary-General; assassination of a journalist, member of NUSOJ; interference from the authorities to take control of trade unions; and a campaign to discredit the independent trade union movement.

The UN labour body has noted with deep concern the new case of murder of a journalist and member of the NUSOJ, Mr Abdirisaq Qasim Iman, who was shot dead by a police officer in Mogadishu’s Waberi district, and this case joins the list of violent attacks on journalists and union leaders which ILO denounced such as the assassination of another journalist and member of the NUSOJ, namely Mr Abdiasis Mohamed Ali; the arrest of Mr Abdi Adan Guled, Vice-President of NUSOJ; and any police investigation and judicial inquiry in relation to the assassination attempt against Mr Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary-General of the NUSOJ.

ILO “urges the Government to take all necessary measures within its power to ensure the full respect for fundamental rights, in particular those related to human life and personal safety, and to combat the culture of impunity created by an absence of investigation and prosecution of such heinous acts.”

The governing body, comprising 28 governments, 14 employers’ representatives and 14 workers’ representatives, noted that “investigations should focus not only on the individual author of the crime but also on the intellectual instigators in order for true justice to prevail and to meaningfully prevent any future violence against trade unionists”.

“Three years ago, we put the Somali government in the dock and today it has been proved that we were right to do so, with the unceasing attacks on our fundamental democratic and human rights. Attempts to malign us and take over our unions under government setup failed to fool the ILO. These violations continue because of impunity enjoyed by the architects of these violations. Our government has to begin to do the right thing, stopping impunity,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

The ILO Tripartite Committee also expressed its firm expectation that “the Government will provide without further delay detailed information on the measures taken to ensure that the FESTU and the NUSOJ can fully develop their trade union activities without hindrance.”

The ILO Governing Body has discussed this complaint six times since 2015 and had asked the Government of Somalia on several occasions to take measures to put an end to the interference, aggression and stigmatization directed against NUSOJ and its leaders.

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