The President of the Federal Government of Somalia, H.E. Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo has signed into law the long-awaited amended Somalia Media Law which both the House of the People and the upper House (the Senate) have approved on July 8 2019 and 14 January 2020, respectively.
The Media Law safeguards the freedom of the press, as it is enshrined in Somalia’s provisional Constitution. It is one of the most consulted law ever produced in Somalia and reflects the outcome of the consultation meetings that continued even as it had been before Somali parliament in 2019 and early 2020.
The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, H.E. Mohamed Abdi Hayir Maareeye hailed the occasion as historic and an important milestone for Somali media both public and private. He congratulated the Somali Media for this day, as they now have a national law which will protect themselves and their interests and rights.
“The president has instructed me to point out that this Law becomes a life document that the government and the media will continue consultations.” Added the Minister. Speaking at the Signing Ceremony, the Acting Prime Minister of Somalia, H.E. Mahdi Mohamed Guled, has congratulated the Somali journalists for having today National Media Law that they have contributed to its amendment as the government listened to them and amended all of the 11 clauses they proposed changing.
“It is togetherness that we can further improve the Media Law. I would urge you to always act fair and remember you have responsibilities, please act responsibly.” Said Somalia’s acting Prime Minister. The amended Media law went through rigorous consultations with the private media in Somalia as well as in the diaspora since the Ministry of Information requested the Media Law to be amended in 2017 amid concerns raised by Somali Media during the consultations.
The Ministry held 6-8 May 2016 consultation meeting in Mogadishu with the state and the private Media practitioners who all agreed the clauses that needed changing and finalized the draft of the review after two weeks from 8 of May 2016. Somali Media Law gives the media freedom and establishes the National Media Commission, which will be the authority for Somali Media: Resolving their disputes, Safeguarding and Advocating for the interests of Somali Media. The Commission will consist of 9 members, 3 from the Private media 3 from the Public Media and 3 members will be from the Civil Society.
The law specifies the development of the media and it protects and respects the freedom of Somali media. It proposes the establishment of National Public Broadcasting Service in Somalia. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Information, Culture & Tourism is committed to ensuring that Somali Media works in a safe environment free from prejudice and arbitrary arrests. In 2019, it has led the establishment of National Committee for the Safety of Somali Journalists in collaboration with the States and Private Media of Somalia and the international partners working on the development of Somali Media.
The 11 members of the Committee include 4 members from the Private Media, 4 from the Government Institutions and 3 from the Civil Society.
This committee is to ensure the prevention of unwarranted arrests, detention & assault against Somali Journalists, investigating murders and working on the prosecution of the perpetrators of crimes against Somali journalists.
On the other hand, the Federal Government of Somalia has announced the establishment of a Government Communication Centre (GCC) in cooperation with the Office of the President, Office of the Prime Minister and Benadir Regional Administration (BRA) with the mandate of unifying the messages by the government institutions, setting the national narratives, communicating the government’s activities to the wider public, providing access to information and coordinating media