Speaker of the Somali Parliament Mr. Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari
MOGADISHU (HMC) – Somalia’s parliament passed a controversial media bill proposed by the government, saying it aims to regulate the nation’s media industry.
The 42-article new bill, passed 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’.
Announcing the vote results, Somalia’s parliament speaker Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari said that out of the 142 MPs who were present at the session 139 voted in favour of the bill while three others abstained from voting.
“Because of the overwhelming endorsement, the media bill is approved.” He said. 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
Somalia is one of the 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.