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Somalia: Minister of Information urged to consult media community in draft media law revisions

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has voiced great concern over the Minister of Information's formation of a committee to revise the draft media law.

Minister Mustaf Sheikh Ali Dhuhulow has appointed a committee comprised mostly of individuals from the Ministry of Information and its associates, as well as persons who would always agree with the ministry regardless of their personal convictions. Some of the committee members are also the same individuals who claimed to have conscripted the widely condemned draft media law.

The committee furthermore lacks broad support from the media community in different parts of the country. It seems that Minister Dhuhulow appointed friends and associates to positions of authority, without proper regard for their credentials. The committee fails to have national representation, and Mogadishu is not equal to Somalia.

Despite promises by the minister to conduct proper consultations with the independent media community and his claimed commitment to media freedom and to change the ministry's attitude toward the independent media community, this recent move has dashed hopes to improve the media environment and relations between the government and the independent media.

NUSOJ affirms its total rejection of this so-called committee, which will undoubtedly produce another unacceptable draft, which will give the ministry more powers to control the independent media. The union reaffirms its previous position on the media law reform.

"Similar committees were formed before, but they did not work because they were based on this same notion and the independent media resisted them. This committee will follow the same path and we will challenge it as we fight for media rights," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. "We call on the independent media and media freedom community to come out strongly to stand up against this new move which does not support media freedom."

NUSOJ is urging the Minister of Information to rethink this so-called committee and to make honest consultations with regard to further reform the draft media law by consulting all parties involved in the process.

"The future of a free media in Somalia is not possible without the input of the independent media itself, not those handpicked by the ministry. We urge the government to ensure that independent journalists' voices are not only heard, but their concerns and perspectives incorporated into the draft media law and that they have a role in any formation that is tasked for revising the draft," added Osman.

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