FESOJ and Media Fraternities Have Appealed Somali President Not to Sign the Draconian Media Law After Meeting
Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ) and other media fraternities including Somali Women Journalists (SWJ) and Somali Media Association (SOMA) shared their concerns over the devastating Somalia Media law with the President of Federal Republic of Somalia his Excellency Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo after meeting with him on Sunday night January 26,2020 and jointly appealed the President not to sign the contentious media bill passed by both houses of Somalia Parliaments recently. New draft of the Press Law contains harsh provisions that put pressure on the media and contradicts article 18 of the country's Provisional Constitution which clearly indicates that “Every person has the right to have and express their opinions and to receive and impart their opinion, information and ideas in any way”. The Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo has listened the concerns of Somali journalists about media law and the most serious provisions of concern in the draft media law and said he would consult with his legal advisors and consider recommendations made by Somali media fraternities and the concerns raised on the press law. President Farmaajo said the government's leadership is committed and giving greater importance to the freedom of speech and media and is a clear indication of how they dealt with the past three years in which the way media is treated have dramatically improved. The President finally said that the media fraternities would be needed to do strong lobbies and engagements with parliamentarians while being reviewed in the houses of Somali legislative bodies but said now he is making consultations over what can be done to make sure further perfection of the media bill before he is signed into law The media's meeting with the President came after a request from the FESOJ and other affiliated organizations to the president through Presidential Media Director Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed, which the President accepted and welcomed. “The review of the Media Law was a request from us, we believe it now falls short & if you President signs it, it will be a major obstacle to the press freedom in Somalia & may lead intimidation, harassment of journalists & censorship, therefore we respectfully request you Mr President not to sign the bill until further perfections are amended or removed deadly provisions in the media law “ Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu said on behalf of Somali media. FESOJ doesn’t undermine the efforts made by both houses of the Somalia Parliament who have amended more than 10 provisions, and have added new articles supporting the journalist's protections such as Article 2 Clause 7 which says Only a court order can be detained a journalist or suspend a media, this rules out the constant arbitrary arrest of media workers by commanders or political leaders. The following provisions are some of the harsh articles which are still in the media law and media groups are complaining about. Interpretation of who is a Journalist has been provided under two contradictory articles ( 1 and 34)
- Article 1- Journalist: is any person who has the knowledge of journalism, engages in the practice of journalism and is authorized to operate
- Article 9.D directs all media stations, whether new or current, are required to put a deposit amount of money in which the Media Council will issue with special regulation.
- Article 14 refers to the formation of the Somali Media Council as an independent entity but article 39-B it says Minster of Information directs the work of Media Council. How can such Media Council be an independent?
- 25.2- The Ministry of Information and the Media Commission in consultation with journalists’ organizations in the country shall set the regulations of the general code of ethics of journalism, which shall stipulate the following issues, among others:
- FESOJ believes that The Media Code of Conduct should not be part of the media law and The Government/ Ministry of Information should not have a role in establishing the journalists’ code of conduct. Likewise, ‘sound Somali culture’ cannot be easily defined and thus can be problematic in terms of interpretation.