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Despite outrage, Somalia insists passed controversial media bill protects journalists

Hiiraan Online
Thursday, December 31, 2015

MOGADISHU (HOL) – One day after Somalia’s parliament passed a controversial media that aims to regulate the beleaguered media industry, Somalia’s information minster dismissed calls by journalists to review the bill, insisting that it protects journalists’ rights.

The 42-article new bill, passed on Monday is seen as ‘restrictive’ that gives authorities wide-range of options to prosecute and arrest journalists for disseminating ‘false’ news, and slap fines on journalists and media houses that infringe the bill, a subject journalists say was ‘vaguely worded’.

However, Somali Ministry of Information Mr. Mohamed Abdi Hayir (Maareeye), called the bill as the ‘best’ among the world’s media bills, saying it ‘completely’ protects journalists’ rights, thanking the parliament for passing it.

“After nine years of reviews and counterchecks by relevant authorities, it’s finally approved,” he told reporters on Wednesday,

The bill which needs the president's signature to take effect also creates a watchdog that would regulate the media operating in the country; however, the government says majority of the body’s members were picked from the independent media.

It also instructs media outlets including newspapers to register with the government and pay annual license fees.

The development comes after the bill drafted by the information ministry failed to pass numerous times after an outrage by journalists who said that law introduced strict media restrictions and heavy fines.

Somalia is one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists as 18 journalists have been killed last year.

Despite government’s promises of prosecution of perpetrators for media workers killings, yet criminals walk freely without facing justice that provoked int’l calls demanding justice.

Human rights groups demand that Somali authorities and the international community take action to reestablish the rule of bill in Somalia, following the killing of many journalists in the country.

The country is emerging from decades of war that shattered its governmental system.

As usual, Reporters in Somalia must watch for attacks from militants and criminals and know that such deaths have been met with judicial inaction in a capital city with crippled government institutions.

Most of the killings have taken place in areas of Mogadishu under the Somali government's control. Despite government promises of prosecutions, no arrests have yet been made for any of the killings in2012.


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