The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has today voiced great concern by the action of the Minister of Information of the federal government in forming a committee to revise the draft media law.
Minister Mustaf Sheikh Ali Dhuhulow appointed a committee in this week comprising individuals who are mostly from the Ministry of Information and its associates as well as persons who would always agree with the Ministry regardless of personal convictions. Some of the committee members are also the same individuals who claimed to have conscripted the widely condemned draft media law.
The committee furthermore lacks broad support from the media community in different parts of the country and seems Minister Dhuhulow appointed friends and associates to a position of authority, without proper regard to their credentials. The committee fails to have national representation, and Mogadishu is not equal to Somalia.
Despite promises by the Minister to make proper consultations with the independent media community and his claimed commitment to media freedom and to make change within the Ministry towards its attitude to independent media community, this recent move dashed hopes to improve media environment and the relations between the government and the independent media.
NUSOJ affirms its total rejection of this so-called committee, which undoubtedly will produce another unacceptable draft, which will give the Ministry more powers to control the independent media, and again this so-called committee confirms abuse of representation within the media. The union reaffirms its previous positions on the media law reform.
“Similar committees were formed before but they did not work because they were based on this same notion and the independent media resisted them. This committee will follow the same path and we will challenge it as we fight for media rights,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. “We call on the independent media and media freedom community to come out strongly and to stand against this new move which does not support media freedom”.
NUSOJ is urging the Minister of Information to rethink of this so-called committee and make honest consultations with regard to further reform of draft media law by consulting with all parties involved in the process.
“The future of a free media in Somalia is not possible without the input of the independent media itself, not those handpicked by the Ministry. We urge that the government ensures that independent journalists’ voices are not only heard but their concerns and perspectives incorporated into draft media law and they have a role in a any formation that is tasked for revising the draft,” added Osman.