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Draft media law contains provisions that seriously hinder free expression, says ARTICLE 19

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is a 10 May 2007 ARTICLE 19 press release:

Draft Media Law of Somalia Must Be Revised to meet International Standards

ARTICLE 19: the Global Campaign for Free Expression is urging a revision of the Draft Media Law of Somalia, according to Notes on the Draft released today.

Although the move to normalise the legislative environment for the media in Somalia is welcome, ARTICLE 19 is concerned that the Draft Law strays into areas of regulation and registration that will seriously hinder freedom of expression. Furthermore, ARTICLE 19 believes the proposed law goes well over the top "with strict obligations of accuracy to be enforced through imposition of harsh criminal penalties."

The Draft Media Law of Somalia would require that every media outlet - broadcast, internet website and print - be registered. Also, the law would impose restrictions on the importing of media equipment and demand that newspapers vet their publications with government authorities. "These legal provisions could only thwart the very goals of media pluralism and diversity and would obstruct journalists' ability to operate expeditiously in the public interest," says Dr. Agnes Callamard, the Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.

The drafters of this law should comply with the African Union's Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa. It requires that "any registration system for the print media shall not impose substantive restrictions on the right to freedom of expression." Says Callamard, "That's the standard they should strive for."

ARTICLE19's Notes on the Draft Media Law of Somalia offers recommendation for revising the law to international standards and best practice. The Notes are available at http://www.article19.org/pdfs/analysis/somalia-notes-on-draft-media-law.pdf

ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of expression.

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