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Somalia: Government commences public consultation on media laws

Press release
22 Feb 2013

ARTICLE 19 welcomes and supports the process of consultation between Somalia’s Ministry of Information, Posts and Transport, the media, and telecommunication operators around the provisions of the draft Somali Communications Act 2012 and on the revision of the Media Law of 2007. ARTICLE 19 has previously called for such consultation process with stakeholders that would give legitimacy and broader support to these important pieces of legislation.

ARTICLE 19 believes that starting these deliberations demonstrates that the Somali government values stakeholders input to the policy formulation process and we shall continue to support them. We are also glad that the Ministry of Information, Posts and Transport have taken up the suggestions ARTICLE 19 made in 2010 and 2012.

On 22 March 2012, the Council of Ministers of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) adopted the Draft Communications Act 2012 (draft Act), a major piece of legislation intended to lay the groundwork for regulation of both the telecommunications industry and broadcasting sector in Somalia. However, ARTICLE 19 raised concern that the law making process was not transparent and stakeholders had not been able to give their input. ARTICLE 19 observed that the lack of such process had led to criticism of the draft Act as such and questions of its legitimacy. It therefore suggested the Somali government should consult important stakeholders, such as telecommunication industry, journalists and civil society including those living outside of the capital in the formulation of any laws.

After a consultative meeting held on 10 February 2013 between stakeholders and Government officials, led by the Minister for Information, Posts and Transport Abdullahi Elmoge Hersi, it was decided that there shall be 60 days of broad public consultations to provide stakeholders with the opportunity to comment on the new law and make recommendations for its improvement in line with international best practice. Such consultation shall be completed prior to the one year anniversary of the signing of the Act. Thereafter, comments from stakeholders shall be considered for incorporation as amendments to the draft Act which Parliament shall pass within 18 months of the signing of the law. Additionally, the Ministry announced that in accordance with ARTICLE 19s recommendations and international standards, the Media Law 2007 will be changed to only require licensing for broadcast media, and not print or the Internet.

This is a strong statement which shows the government’s commitment to upholding freedom of expression and having a genuine open and transparent law making process.

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