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Puntland: Hefty fines levied on UK based Universal TV in first anti-defamation penal action.

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Press Release

April 13, 2017

Garowe Puntland: On the April 04, 2017, Garowe’s first grade court has smacked a two thousand dollars fine on the Universal TV station in the first punitive action taken under the articles 2 and 16 of the Puntland Media Law. This contentious prosecution claimed that Universal TV violated the Puntland Media law while defaming the Puntland’s President and public.

The case was filed under the authentication of the Deputy Minister of information culture and Heritage alongside the same Ministry’s General Director. Evidences brought to court to back the allegations were in type of simulated Footage (unique sketch comedy) aired by the Universal TV under it’s ‘’Faaliyaha Qaranka’’ on the dates of August 07, 2016 and March 04 and 11, 2017.

The court ruling that occurred on the April 04, 2017, thirty-days from the date of Universal TV closure, marks the lengthiest independent media house closure in the history of the Puntland State of Somalia since its formation in 1998. The court in its verdict has described the procedure and orders of the Universal TV closure done by the Deputy Puntland Ministry of information on the March 05, 2017 as unlawful and bypassed the provisions 52 to 53 of the Somali Criminal Procedure code and the Article 2 of the Puntland constitution.

In the context of the court’s definition referring to the unlawful orders of closure, the court has ruled that the Puntland Ministry of information culture and Heritage to refund loss and damages incurred as result of the illegal shutdown during the thirty-day period this includes reimbursement of expenses of premise rents, staff salaries, domestic expenses such as electricity and water bills and other expenses that fall under this category.

In respond to the court’s ruling referring to decision on refunding damages and losses, the MAP chair confirmed that on the April 9, 2017, Universal TV has submitted to the court a 13,750 USD sum in total count of the losses incurred.

‘’Together with the Universal TV colleagues we have submitted to the court and amount of thirteen thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars – a total cost of damage the station has suffered during the one month, said Faisal Khalif.

This includes the cost of salaries of staffers, technicians and non-skilled employees, office rent, electricity and water bills in the five bases of Universal TV in Puntland. He added, the cost also includes the terminated contracts of ongoing advertisements the station was running, noted Faisal.

Similar to this case, in August 2015, Nugal Court dismissed a court case filed by Ministry of information against radio Sahan after finding no evidence on accusation filed.

Media self-regulation is one of the prominent elements lacking in the current Puntland media landscape. A healthy voluntary self-regulatory system within the media landscape is one of the cornerstones of freedom of expression, press freedom, and democratic governance. It is also the best means of guaranteeing high ethical and professional standards in journalism.

For a number of years now, Somalia has had the dubious distinction of being among the most “dangerous countries” for journalists in the world, according to national and international watchdogs monitoring freedom of expression.

The Somali media remains challenged by censorship, intimidation, harassment, unlawful detention, imprisonment and mysterious assassinations bearing the hallmarks of extremism and political instigation.


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