The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has today launched a campaign to combat hate speech and promote peaceful elections in the upcoming presidential and parliamentary polls.
Flagged by the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism in the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), Osman Abukar Dubbe, the campaign was organized in partnership with the political unit of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), and the Federal Government.
This campaign came at the right time as it follows a series of hate messages that have in the recent past dominated both the mainstream and social media from different political actors. Somalia is soon preparing to hold parliamentary and presidential election.
Speaking at the event in Mogadishu on Thursday, Information, Culture and Tourism Minister Osman Abukar Dubbe warned politicians against public incitement during the election period and also urged the media to steer away from spreading hate speech and maintain professionalism during their coverage of the election.
“Responsibility to ensure peace is not disrupted lies with every citizen to protect their country’s stability and to ensure that the election is not used to disrupt the peace they enjoy because if peace is disrupted then life itself will be interrupted and no one will be safe anymore,” Minister Dubbe said.
He reminded the public that elections come and go and that they must not be used to destroy their own lives and country.
“The public need to remember that elections come to pass every 4 years and as such it must not interfere or affect our life, our business, our children education and so we must not allow it to affect us because every 4 years we will have elections,” he added while urging any election related grievances to be resolved by the constitutionally mandate bodies like the Election Dispute Committees at both State and Federal level.
The Secretary General of NUSOJ, Omar Faruk Osman, said that there is no better time to have in place such a campaign than now when Somalia is preparing to go to the polls.
“Such hate messages as we have seen everywhere in the recent past are detrimental to society. They incite violence since they pit one side against the other, and if not curtailed early, they can totally destabilize the country. That is why we at NUSOJ took it upon ourselves to prevent the situation from deteriorating, especially since we are so close to elections,” explained NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman.
He said the campaign also seeks to promote responsible use of both mainstream and social media by especially journalists, politicians, and the general public by teaching them to exercise restraint while they enjoy their freedom of speech and expression, since misuse of such freedoms can cause dire consequences.
As part of the campaign, NUSOJ and its partners will hold a series of public events dedicated to the cause, release press statements to the same effect, and monitor and advise various media platforms on hate speech.
Among such events includes the upcoming National Conference on Peaceful Elections and Freedom of Expression, slated for December 27th 2020 in Mogadishu, to be attended by, among others electoral bodies, journalists, politicians, the civil society and various international partners accredited to the Federal Government of Somalia.