The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) deplores the announcement by the Minister of Information, Posts, telecommunication and Transportation of the Federal Government that he will soon present draft media law to the parliament.
Minister Abdullahi Ilmooge Hersi declared through the media on Sunday, 13 October, his intention to submit to federal the draft laws on media and telecommunications.
NUSOJ criticizes the draft media law as it lacks adequate safeguards to ensure respect of a number of media rights, including the freedom of expression. The latest draft consists of just superficial improvements to previous draft of 11 July and still envisages repressive provisions. Number of provisions are insufficiently clear and leave room for broad interpretation that can be used against journalists.
“We regret that the process of drafting of this important legislation was conducted without broad and extensive consultations with the independent media community in the country,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
NUSOJ calls on the independent media community to raise up and mount national campaign to resist declared intention by the Minister of Information, Posts, Telecommunication and Transportation
“The drafting process has not been transparent and the possibility of the independent media stakeholders’ input and views has been extremely restricted due to hostile attitude by the officials at the Ministry to injudiciously want to pass this law and the exclusion of the independent media community encouraged by foreigners who have vested interest in controlling the process of the drafting”.
The federal government, through the Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdoon, pledged broad consultations and that the draft law shall not be taken to parliament without the will and the support of the independent media community. Sunday’s announcement contradicts Prime Minister’s commitment and pledge.
“If this draft law is passed by the parliament and promulgated by the president and goes into effect, it will leave a permanent threat hanging over Somali journalists and news media,” added Osman.
The draft version of the law has not been publically available and independent media community have not been able to contribute to the discussion on the text of the draft, though camouflaging activities were organised but the media community stayed away. NUSOJ perceives that the lack of such process has led to widespread denunciation of the draft law as such and questions of its legitimacy.
“The problem is the method used by the Ministry which wants to force it through anyhow”, declared Osman. “We did not accept the previous draft and we wont let the current draft which is harsh and severe to go to parliament unopposed”.
The union further call on regional and international press freedom advocacy groups to extend the independent media of Somalia an urgent solidarity and support to resist the arranged media rights suppression in the draft media law.