The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has today called for extensive consultations on Puntland’s draft media law to ensure the legislation is consistent with provisional constitution of Somalia and international standards of freedom of expression.
On Wednesday, 16 July, Puntland parliament returned a draft media law to the Ministry of Information of Puntland after journalists protested to parliamentarians that the draft submitted to them is not the actual text discussed and agreed by the media community with the former administration of Puntland.
The distributed draft media law stipulates penalties, fines, and suspension of journalists from work. It intends to legalise close of media houses. It restrains editorial independence of media outlets. The draft law gives the ministry of information the power to withhold or revoke media house registration unilaterally.
Backing Puntland journalists protest, NUSOJ applauded Puntland parliamentarians for being on the side of journalists and sending back the draft media law to the ministry. The parliament furthermore summoned Puntland Minister of Information for questioning.
“We stress the necessity of extensive consultations on draft media law of Puntland so that it will be consistent with international standards of freedom of expression and press freedom,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. “We want the concerns and views of Puntland Media fraternity in Bossaso, Galkayo and Garowe taken into account”.
Puntland journalists informed NUSOJ that the vague draft media law of Puntland could intimidate journalists to curtail investigative journalism and reporting on sensitive topics.
NUSOJ echoes that only through a free media and Puntland government’s respect for journalists’ rights will democratization process of Puntland move forward.