Mogadishu, Somalia – December 10, 2023 – The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) proudly joins the global community in commemorating International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2023, under the universal theme: “Freedom, Equality, and Justice For All.”
This year's theme resonates deeply with the challenges faced in Somalia, particularly regarding access to information and the rights of journalists. While our provisional constitution guarantees the right to access information under Article 32, the lack of enabling laws poses a significant hurdle to its realization.
In Somalia, for many years, journalists have been grappling with numerous issues related to their freedom and safety, both legally and physically. Journalists often face legal restrictions that hinder their work, and physical safety remains a constant concern due to threats and violence.
International Human Rights Day holds special significance this year, as it falls just days before a landmark decision by International Financial Institutions (IFIs) on debt relief for Somalia. This decision hinges on principles of accountability, transparency, and combating corruption. Access to information is a crucial legal provision in this context, enabling transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.
NUSOJ reiterates its appeal for the swift enactment of an access to information law in Somalia, which is in alignment with the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa endorsed by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), African Union's premier human rights body.
The urgency of this matter cannot be overstated. Despite over a decade since the provisional constitution came into effect in 2012, numerous outdated and draconian laws continue to infringe on media freedom, freedom of expression, and the right to access information in Somalia. These laws, including provisions in the penal code, restrict media freedom, free expression online, the free flow of information, and citizens' right to access information.
NUSOJ urges the federal government of Somalia to prioritize the repeal or amendment of the country's Penal Code, aligning it with the progressive provisions of the Provisional Constitution and Somalia’s international human rights obligation. This step is crucial in upholding the principles of freedom, equality, and justice for all.