Somalia on Saturday promised to review the 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 held a meeting with media leaders in Mogadishu where he discussed the importance of the Media Law and making it one that works with the satisfaction of all parties.
“I have listened to the concerns of the media leaders towards a number of articles in the Media Law and promised them that these articles will be reviewed as soon as possible in order to make them more agreeable,” Osman said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.
“The Media Law is already in effect as it had been signed by former president of Somalia in January, 2016. We now give consideration to the proposed amendment by the Media,” he added.
The journalists say the law introduces strict media restrictions and heavy fines on media workers. The regulations fail to take into account the years of experience a journalist may have on reporting on Somalia’s complicated clan-based and religious violence.
According to article 7 of the bill, all media houses including newspapers must 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, which will soon be set up.
No universities offered journalism qualifications during the more than two decades of fighting since the Horn of Africa nation lacked a central government.
But Osman said the government will start consultations on the way forward in order to make the Media Law more compatible with Somalia situation and international media laws.
“However, we are committed to ensure cooperation with the media and the public and get their consent,” he added and urged the stakeholders to submit their recommendations to the ministry in order to hasten the review and amend the articles in dispute.