The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the new government in Somalia to take swift and decisive action to repeal controversial clauses in media law 2007, passed by the former Transitional Federal Government and to make a commitment to genuinely safeguarding media freedom and journalists' rights.
According to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), an affiliate of the IFJ, the media law enacted in 2007 includes many provisions that undermine journalists' rights, media freedom and are contrary to international standards of freedom of expression.
"This law has been on the statute books for five years in violation of international standards and has often been used by Somali administration's officials to repress journalists and media, whenever they wanted," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President.
Last Monday, NUSOJ organised a consultation meeting involving a wide range of stakeholders at Mogadishu's Sahafi hotel. The main objective of the meeting was to carry out a far-reaching review of the provisions of the media law which are not in line with the provisional constitution of Somalia.
"Today, Somali journalists are often victims of deadly violence but also of the current legislation used by unscrupulous authorities to harass and try to put pressure on them. These oppressive articles must be removed or amended," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
IFJ welcomed these consultations and pledged to support any review of the media law which must also bring an end to the use of Somalia's penal code against journalists doing their work. Participants also declared their opposition to having one law for both telecommunication and media - a position the IFJ says should be respected and implemented.
"Legislation on Somali media should not be combined with a law on telecommunication. This will only further complicate and water down attempts to secure media freedom through legal means," added Boumelha.
NUSOJ and other media stakeholders, including media owners, identified all the provisions that must be replaced and made proposals to amend the existing relevant legislation.
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries