The National Union of Somali Journalists today welcomed the massive participation by Somali journalists in its petitioning of the federal government of Somalia in opposition to the current draft media law. As of today, some 264 journalists signed the petition initiated by the union on 3rd August.
“The majority of Somali journalists have now declared themselves to be against the repressive draft media law and have sent a powerful message to the government that they will not accept such a law, hatched in secret in order to curtail media freedom,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
Journalists in Mogadishu, Baidoa, Bardhere, Galkayo, Garowe and Jowhar, working for the independent media in particular, have strongly opposed the draft media law since it was agreed by the Council of Ministers on 11 July 2013.
The petition said: “We undersigned Somali journalists declare that the draft media law passed by the Council of Ministers on 11 July 2013 is an oppressive to media freedom.
“If this draft media law is passed into law it is violating article 18 of constitution of Somalia which was approved on 1 august 2012. Likewise this draft media law is against international standards on freedom of expression and human rights. We call upon the government to amend the following articles: 2, 4, 5, 6, 16, 20, 25, 26 and 27 of this draft law.
“We want to declare that this draft media law was not consulted with media in different regions of the country, majority of independent media operating in Mogadishu, the National Union of Somali Journalists and the majority of media owners of the country. We demand genuine participation of different media stakeholders cited in this paragraph.”
The independent media community launched with the help of NUSOJ a national campaign calling for the so-called “technical committee”, set up by the Ministry of Information to supervise the media law, as it is made up of the same individuals who drafted the law in the first place, and included non-Somalis who have been accused of abusing journalists in Somalia and lacked the support of a the broad spectrum of media.
“It is deplorable that those entrusted with public office are serving the interests of foreigners who are out to suppress Somali media. They seem to be rushing through a media law which is against the interests of Somalia’s media community. Are they really serving press freedom?” added Osman.
NUSOJ today also condemned the continued attacks by the Ministry of Information on the independent media, including threats and intimidations against journalists and media houses.