Members of British Parliament have launched today a parliamentary motion at the House of Commons against draconian and repressive media law in Somalia which threatens the right to freedom of expression in Somalia.
The campaign by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) with the backing of the National Union of Journalists of UK and Ireland (NUJ) had termed the media law a legal regime that seeks to curtail the rights of journalists, suppress independence of media houses and forces journalists to reveal its confidential sources.
A group of MPs, led by Rt Hon Liz Saville Roberts MP, has tabled an early day motion calling on President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo to “think again about the draft legislation and to decline to sign the media law and to ensure that any proposed amendments are in line with Somalia’s constitutional and international obligations and commitments to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the right to freedom of expression.”
The motion raises serious concerns about the media law and notes that the Federal Parliament of Somalia sought to amend media legislation to grant the Federal Ministry of Information extensive powers to interfere in the work of journalists and independent media houses, and impact on public interest reporting in country. The motion “further notes that the law has a number of unacceptably broad restrictions on the content of what may be published or broadcast, including a prohibition on false news, encouragement of tribalism, baseless propaganda and violating sound Somali culture”.
The motion agrees with the NUJ and NUSOJ that the draft law could enable the Somali authorities at both Federal and State level to arbitrarily prosecute journalists to undercut free expression and access to information.