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Trade Unions Drag Somali Government to ILO

This statement was originally published by on May 26, 2016

The International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s Committee on Freedom of Association will be interrogating a delegation from the Federal Government of Somalia over violations of human and trade union rights.

This follows complaints by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) and the International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC) on trade union rights attacks committed by the Ministries of Information and Labour of Somalia.

In November 2015, the Federal Government of Somalia were accused and found guilty of violating human and trade union rights, specifically intimidation and harassment of trade unionists, interference in trade union affairs, trade union discrimination, imposing government-sponsored persons on independent trade unions, suppressing freedoms of assembly and movement and carrying out reprisal against a trade union leader for cooperating and communicating with UN human rights mechanisms.

A government delegation led by Minister of Labour, Abdweli Ibrahim Mudey, and Minister of Information, Mohamed Abdi Hayir, arrived in Geneva to face a probe by the ILO elected tripartite body over union rights violations. It is first time that Somali government was subjected to ILO supervisory mechanism to answer all anti-trade union practices.

“We are very pleased that finally those in power who abused the national authority entrusted to them are going to be held accountable and they will have to explain their actions. It is a good start of accountability and also an important step taken to tackle impunity,” said NUSOJ Secretary General who is also currently the General Secretary of the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU).

For sometime, the government had enjoyed “feel-good” ride with certain circles of the International Community without being asked specific, up-front and rigorous questions over its institutionalised attacks on trade union rights.

“Today our government is forced to spend badly needed resources of dozens of American dollars, which would be indispensible support to our droughts affected people, to try to defend indefensible violations it committed against its own citizens in order their constitutional, fundamental and international rights” added Osman.

NUSOJ and FESTU call on the Federal Government of Somalia to embrace the conclusions of the ILO in November 2015 and March 2016, and implement the recommendations as laid out. “Our government will create a better and peaceful future with democratic foundations with full respect of human rights by accepting and owning up to its wrong doings. This is a clean start that has been offered to our government but it is only possible if government implements to the letter all the recommendations” declared Osman.

With the support and sponsorship of ITUC, a powerful trade union delegation from Somalia is now on its way to Geneva, Switzerland, to attend 105th session of ILO Conference.


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