A Parliamentarians’ and media stakeholders’ forum was held on Saturday, September 23rd, 2017 aimed at providing comprehensive inputs for amendment to the Somali Media Bill approved by the Cabinet in July 2017.
In recent months, the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism opened up the Somalia Media Law for wider consultations and has been encouraging the media stakeholders to engage with the law makers, with a view to ensuring the amended media law is aligned to the accepted standards and best practices.
Today, as the draft was submitted to Parliament, representatives of the Somali media associations, Somalia Media Support Group (SMSG) and media law experts reviewed the draft media bill with members of the Parliamentary Media and Telcom Committee.
The forum examined all the contentious clauses as raised by the media and human rights fraternity and agreed on clauses that requires amendment, failure to which the media law would inhibit an enabling environment for the media operations in Somalia.
The media associations present were assured that their recommendations by the Somali media practitioners and guided by the international best practise shared by the members of the SMSG, will enable the parliamentarians to understand the clauses that the media fraternity is requesting for amendment, before the bill goes through the second and third reading.
Present in this meeting were representatives of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), Somali Media Association (SOMA), Somali Independent Media House Association (SIMHA), Somali Women’s Journalists (SWJ), Media Association of Puntland (MAP) and senior representatives of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. The meeting was supported and facilitated by the Somali Media Support Group (SMSG) which brings together Somalia media development partners, among them the United Nations Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
“Today’s meeting is definitely timely and we the media fraternity have raised our concerns and the provisions in the media law which we are convinced if not amended will inhibit an enabling environment for the media to operate in Somalia. We thank the members from the Somali Media and Telecom parliamentary committee, who committed the whole day to listen to the media fraternity concerns and we hope that this will pave the way for the desired amendment of our media law ” said Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, elected Secretary General of NUSOJ.
The Honourable Jibril Abdirashid Haji of the Parliamentary Committee of Media and Telecommucations expressed appreciation to Somalia Media Support Group and the Media associations for organising the multi-stakeholder consultative forum of Somali stakeholders and for providing international expertise. He indicated that this inclusive platform is important as it has provided a unique opportunity for the parliamentarians to understand the media concerns. He also promised to brief the rest parliamentarians on the outcome of the meeting and provide feedback to the media stakeholders before it is approved by the parliament.
Honourable Abdi Saabir Nur who is also a member of the Media and Telecom parliamentary committee said their committee has already succeeded in approving the Somali Communication Bill which was officially approved by the parliament for the first time since 1990, so getting advantage of that experience they do hope they will pass the law while considering with the concerns of media community.
Senator Muna Omar Hassan requested that the Media Law should also provide a framework for addressing the working environment for the media personnel to ensure that it attracts and sustains the well trained journalists. She also raised concern on the low level of female journalists and urged the media law to provide provisions that encourage more female journalists to management levels in the media sector.
Somalia Media Support Group (SMSG) members expressed their gratitude to the Ministry of Information and the Media and Telecom parliamentary Group for providing the media fraternity with inclusive engagement platform that takes on board the concerns raised by the different media stakeholders. They also encouraged the Somalia law makers, to use this opportunity and put in place a progressive media law that draws good practices from the region and globally. The SMSG also pledged its continued support to the implementation of the Somali Media Strategy (2016-20120).