The undersigned national trade union organisations note with grave concern recent political developments in Somalia ahead of the upcoming elections. Trade unions appreciate that heated contestations are part of the body politic but are also aware and concerned over the heightened tensions caused by hate speech and attacks on rivals that goes beyond acceptable political contests.
Over the past month the media has been awash with public statements from politicians attacking their opponents in the full glare of the nation. Some of the attacks were broadcast on Television Networks and Radio Stations while some of these statements were disseminated through the social media thereby expanding their reach. Predominantly, the months of November and December saw hate speech reaching unprecedented levels in the country’s recent past.
Organised labour believes that hate speech that intends to degrade, intimidate or incite violence against someone based on political affiliation, position and clan connexion is harmful. We are also aware that hateful words can all too easily lead to physical attacks on harmless citizens and set off a cycle of violence as some of the statements made were potentially explosive and might ignite violence in the not-so-distant future.
Therefore, national trade union organisations:
- Call on political groupings and their leaders to strike a balance between freedoms of speech and hate speech. There is a need for political alliances and leaders to use responsible speech and desist from using inflammatory language.
- Call for tolerance and restraint as Somalia needs peaceful elections, and political leaders need to make public calls to end the ongoing hate speech since it has the potential to trigger violence in our communities.
- Urge all political leaders to exercise caution and good judgement while issuing statements that may instead be taken out of context and cause unnecessary alarm, anxiety and suspicion among the population.
- Urge all news media organisations to guard against broadcasting / publishing messages that incite the public.
- Appeal to Somali authorities, both State and Federal Levels, to act with integrity and respect the rule of law including exercise of the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly as enshrined in the Provisional Constitution of Somalia.
JOINTLY ISSUED BY:
|Federation of Somali Trade Unions||Somali Tailors and Textile Workers Union|
|Somali Agricultural & Food Workers Union||National Electricity Workers Union of Somalia|
|National Union of Somali Journalists||Somalia Construction Workers Unions|
|Somali Maritime & Port Workers Union||Somali Nurse Workers Association|
|Somali Telecommunications & Posts Union||Somali Petroleum and Gas Workers Union|
|Somali Hotel and Catering Workers Union||Somali National Teachers Unions|
|Somali Transport Workers Union|