MOGADISHU, June 27 (Xinhua) — The Somali government said on Tuesday that it has reviewed contentious media law which media practitioners say has harsh restrictions which could put many journalists out of a job.
Minister of Information Abdirahman Omar Osman said the media law which was reviewed following consultations with media stakeholders is now ready for cabinet approval.
“The media law will hugely help the media industry in the country to be regulated and it will protect the freedom of expression as enshrined in chapter 18 of our provisional constitution,” Osman said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.
He said his ministry consulted all key stakeholders in the media sector of the country for their input, feedback and comments to the review of the Media Law.
When he took office early this year, the minister undertook to review the contentious laws following concerns raised by media practitioners in the country.
“We now have a fully reviewed Media Law, that is international standard and has gone under a rigorous consultation which we are now very confident that the revised Media Law is acceptable to all segments of the society as it reflects the wishes of Somali journalists,” Osman said.
“As I promised to Somali journalists when I took office, we have now reached stage where we have done consultations to the review of the Media Law and now ready to forward to the cabinet for their consideration to debate, discuss and approve it so that it will be forward to the parliament for their consideration as well,” Osman said.
The journalists had complained that the current law introduces strict media restrictions and heavy fines on media workers.
The regulations failed to take into account the years of experience a journalist may have on reporting on Somalia’s complicated clan-based and religious violence.
It also required all media houses including newspapers to register at the ministry of information and pay an unspecified annual license fee to get a licence from the ministry.
It also stipulates that journalists must all have a university degree in journalism – and also pass a government test when they register with the media commission. However, no universities offered journalism qualifications during the more than two decades of fighting since the Horn of Africa nation lacked a central government.