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ARTICLE 19 calls for media law reform

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - 13 September 2010 - ARTICLE 19 calls on the government of Somalia to amend the media law based on proposals by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and recommendations made by ARTICLE 19 in a legal analysis released today.

Somalia's 2007 adoption of the Media Law raised serious concerns for media freedom. The law subjects all media to a largely government-controlled regulatory regime whereby members of the National Media Council (NMC) are appointed by the Minister of Information, who plays key roles for registering and authorising media outlets. The media is also legally obliged to promote Islam and can be subject to sanctions for failure to do so.

The NUSOJ is campaigning to reform the Media Law and has proposed an amendment in which few provisions of the currently restrictive law remain.

ARTICLE 19 supports NUSOJ's proposed amendments which remove the obligation to promote Islam, abolishes the Ministry of Information's role in the appointment of members of the NMC, and lifts licence requirements for the print media.

ARTICLE 19's legal analysis adds a number of crucial recommendations to NUSOJ's proposal, which include:
• Creating a comprehensive access to information regime
• Clarifying licence procedures
• Improving the general protection of journalists and media outlets with new provisions on the protection of journalists' sources and protection of media workers against violence.

ARTICLE 19 urges the Somali government to revise the Media Law in line with NUSOJ's proposal and the ARTICLE 19 legal analysis.

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