Nordic unions to quit global journalists’ federation

Norwegian, Finnish, Danish and Icelandic unions will quit the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in protest of “immoral activity”, including holding a congress in Oman, which has limited press freedom, the Danish union said.

The global media association which represents 600,000 journalists in 146 countries, has condemned the accusations as “false, offensive and damaging”.

The Nordic members has accused IFJ of unethical finances and undemocratic practices, like allowing the Russian state media to continue as members.

“It is not an easy decision, but we cannot be a member of a union that does not guard freedom of the press,” said Tine Johansen, chairman of the Danish federation.

Leader of the Norwegian Union of Journalists, Dag Idar Tryggestad, said the unions have fought for years for more democratic rules and more transparency around decisions and spending.

“We believe this resignation is the only thing that can save IFJ,” he said.

Several questionable incidents

Among the issues are the IFJ’s non-transparent use of finances and its decision to hold its world congress in Oman last year.

The congress in Oman was organized at the end of May. At the time journalists were accusing FIFA, the international football association, of corruption. Journalists were widely criticizing FIFA for taking the World Cup to Qatar despite the countries view on human rights.

The Union of Journalists in Finland requested IFJ’s budget for the congress. The budget showed that around 745,000 euros ($811,000) of the total of 778,000 euros came from Omani ministries, private companies and the Oman Journalists’ Association, while IFJ itself paid 33,000 euros of the expenses.

“This has been normal procedure for IFJ congresses over decades,” IFJ wrote in a statement.

Friday last week, the IFJ management attended a meeting in Copenhagen, along with the four Nordic unions.
“We had hoped that they would come up with some answers and plans for changing the organization, but that didn’t happen,” Tine Johansen said.

On its website, IFJ says it promotes collective action to defend human rights, democracy and media pluralism.

About Miabell Mallikka

Miabell Mallikka is a journalist working with ScandAsia at the headquarters in Bangkok.

View all posts by Miabell Mallikka

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