By Abdiaziz Loyal – Mogadishu, Somalia, Thursday, August 27, 2020.
Somalia media fraternity under their umbrella organization Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ) has rejected parts of a new media law signed this week by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo in Mogadishu, the country’s capital.
FESOJ said, Wednesday August 26, 2020, the new “contains positive clauses but is still unfortunately saddled with punitive provisions and onerous restrictions that will adversely impede media independence.”
FESOJ’s Secretary General, Mohamed Moalimuu also called for the removal of all clauses that violate the constitutional sanctity of media freedoms and to decriminalize journalism, repeal the defamation laws and reform the archaic Somali penal code of 1964.
The new law requires all types of publishers and journalists to apply for vetting and license that may be arbitrarily rejected or revoked based on the opaque article 22 if determined to have infringed on laws.
According to the new law, the “registration of journalists” stipulated in article 18, in the new Somali Media Council (SMC) appointed and falling under the Ministry of Information, consisting of 9 equal members drawn from private media, government press, and civil society organizations.
The new law requires local journalists to prove their qualifications, showing their relevant skills and professional experience.
Similarly, to register media outlets, article 9 calls for vague requirements such as to show proof of “adequate financial capacity”, “furthering media diversity” and unspecified amount of “mandatory deposit”.
Moalimuu furthered that FESOJ will press forward for a media law that fully guarantees freedom of expression and the media.
“It’s a regret that the current media law still falls short of President Mohamed’s reform promises in line with international standards and human rights.” he added.
Moalimuu also lauded some notable reforms introduced by the new law. “In many important respects, the amended media law is significantly improved compared to the 2016 law.
Moalimuu also commended the measures made in protecting media workers against unwarranted arrests.
FESOJ also welcomed Prime Minister, Madhi Mohamed Guled’s pledge of reforms and changes in the newly enacted media law under the banner, Somalia Media Council.
At the signing ceremony, Mahdi said that consultations will be continued to align the new law with international standards.
“FESOJ wishes to take this opportunity to welcome PM Mahdi’s pledge and reiterate its call to revise and reform the media law,” Moalimuu said.