Garowe, November 24, 2020: The Media Association of Puntland (MAP) held in Garowe a 2-days media and security stakeholder’s dialogue forum, from 16 – 17 of November 2020, at the PDRC venue, marking the sixth and final “Peace council conference” (PCC).
PCC was designed to provide a platform for dialogue between media and security stakeholders, commitment to address issues affecting journalism safety, and the impunity of crime perpetrators and authorities towards Puntland journalists.
Supported by the European Union (EU) aid in collaboration with the Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the conference was held twice every year from 2018 to 2020.
During the 3-year period, the dialogue forum was implemented in the Puntland towns of Garowe, Galkaio, and Bosaso with each conference drawing an action plan aimed at tackling existing concerns or incidents surrounding the safety of the journalist per location.
In line with the action plans of the previous PCC conventions, the sixth and final conference assessed the milestones accomplished, pending points, and the difficulties encountered during the execution of the overall action plans set out.
The inaugural session featured keynote speeches from the Puntland police chief – General Abdi Hassan Hussein, Director General Ministry of information – Mohamed Isse Osman, the MAP chair – Mohamed Dahir Warsame.
MAP chair said, ” Via the “peace council” venture, which gathered media and security stakeholders to specifically address concerns surrounding the safety of journalists and issues of impunity, that also gave participants the ability to find consensus on a specific plan of action to fix the problems, significant milestones have been achieved in fostering the safety of journalists over the past three years”,
Dahir concluded his opening speech explaining the objective of the final peace council conference, saying, ” Through these two days of the final conference supported EU and Free Press Unlimited (FPU), we aim to re-examine how best have we implemented the multi-stakeholders’ approved action plans including the achievements reached as well as the challenges that till to date exist. Such as the upcoming Journalists’ safety threats posed by political events tantamount to upcoming Somalia’s national elections”, said MAP chair.
General Director of the Ministry of Information, Telecommunication, Culture and Heritage of Puntland-Eng. Mohamed Issa Osman, who was also present and knowledgeable of the action plans stipulated in the previous Peace Councils, commended the leadership of the MAP for the unrelenting efforts over the years that the Association has spent in the quest for an enabling atmosphere for media practice in Puntland.
While the media and security stakeholders’ conference has yielded results that have reduced the unlawful or rather interruptive actions against the local journalists, I urge the journalists to sharpen the accuracy in their news contents to avoid getting caught in trouble. I would like to highlight that MAP and the Ministry of information have been working together to activate the Puntland Media Council, we hope that the council will be a major component that will contribute towards improving the media standards in the state”, said Engineer Mohamed Isse Osman.
In his opening speech, the Puntland Police Commissioner, General Abdi Hassan Hussein (Abdi Yare), appointed by President Saed Abdulahi Deni in April of this year, expressed similarities between the media and the police, both of which serve the good of the public. Importantly, under his watch, the commissioner also announced newly launched State-wide police reforms that include the establishment of the Puntland Police Department of Public Relations Office that will give the public and the media greater access to law enforcement information.
‘The Puntland police are committed to serving the community while upholding the rights of all people, including journalists’ rights. In accordance with that commitment, we have also recently initiated state-wide reforms in the police department, including the establishment of a Public Relations Office aimed at providing better access to law enforcement information for media and the general public.
I would also like to note that an ethically and objectively executed news story should not aim to please those in authority or serve as a mouthpiece for politicians – on the other hand, journalists should also be accountable for the accuracy of their reporting. I look forward to the discussions through the 2day period of the conference and hopefully continue towards working for more improvements” said General Abdi yare, Puntland’s police chief.
To facilitate the conference, MAP selected Mohamed Jelle, a seasoned trainer with a background in the legal profession. Participants observed series of presentations that provided a thorough overview of the action plan drawn from the first conference of the Peace Council held in May 2018 and through to the fifth conference held in August 2020, with explanations concentrating on what promises have been met as well as the action points that have not been achieved effectively.
Following the presentations and the discussions on the previous years, participants changed focus to look into the future improvements needed to continue the journey of having an enabling environment for media practice. The following recommendations and suggestions were agreed upon;
- Participants acknowledged the importance of the PCC dialogue forums and urged MAP to maintain the initiative active for the future. However, the current project which produced the peace councils was supported by EU and FPU and will end this year.
- The government’s failure to perform their role of investigating and bringing culprits who commit crimes against Puntland journalists’ sends a chilling message to the media fraternity, whereas, motivates those thugs to continue the horrible attacks towards the media practitioners. The conference calls for the immediate appointment of qualified police investigators to be designated across the main towns of Puntland.
- The conference also underlined the need to carry out studies that measure the safety of the journalists both in and outside the newsrooms.
The conference’s outcome will be reflected in the existing action plan tailored to undertake a comprehensive and effective approach working towards promoting the safety of journalists and countering the problem of impunity.
The Media Association of Puntland is committed to promoting the safety and protection of its membership, as well, the association is devoted to protecting the basic right to freedom of speech, thus, to ensure that people are well educated and maintain productivity in society at large.