Puntland: MAP, Civil society groups commit to strengthen Media Freedom in Puntland.

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Garowe, Puntland, MAY 23 2016: From May 21 to 22 a number of civil society groups, MAP members, human rights activists from across the Puntland State regions gathered in Garowe to participate on the two-day consultative forum to discuss key pressing concerns on media freedom in Puntland organized by the Puntland Non-State Actors’ Association (PUNSAA) in collaboration with the Media Association of Puntland (MAP).

Participants were composed of MAP members, freelance Journalists, government stakeholders including ministry of information, Ministry of Justice and Religious Affairs, Puntland Judiciary, Puntland human right defender and senior police members.

During the event, participants were able to deepen their understanding on the right to freedom of expression and the media freedom under international law and standards, Media ethics and how press freedom and other human rights should be interpreted and applied in a complementary manner.

The two-day conference also successfully provided a multi-stakeholder platform for the participants to share challenges and best practices, as well as brainstormed ideas on addressing violations related to state control and regulation of the media and press, and extreme interpretations of freedom of expression. Notable suggestions raised by the group on addressing identified obstacles to the free practice of media included the need for policy reforms, such as the repeal of the Puntland Media Law reform.

Participants at the consultation also recognized the occasion as a platform in advancing freedom of the media in the region and committed to working to enhance this right by reaffirming:

  • Puntland constitution Article 25 Freedom of Opinion, which declares: 1. Every person shall have the right to display free expression of his/her opinion, and 2.The person can freely express his/her opinion in oral, press, writing, media, audio-visual, literature and other methods according to the law without any interference.
  • Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which declares: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
  • For freedom of expression to be fully enjoyed, other human rights must also be respected, particularly the principle of nondiscrimination and freedoms of assembly, association, education, and movement.

The participants also committed to:

  • Advocacy: increased negotiations with the Puntland government on reviewing the media law – as a result to obtain a media law that is in conformity with the Puntland constitution and the International Human rights declarations.

The Conference statement was based on the upward trend of government repression against media practitioners in Somalia and has caused grave concerns for local and global defenders of human rights and press freedoms.

Press Freedom in Puntland: Highlights In 2015


Since 2013, violence and impunity against the Media has increased by about 70% in Puntland State, Somalia. In 2015, Journalists went through mental and physical attacks (threats, beatings, injuries and murder), done through amending the media law to legalize repression of the media (decreeing of censorship, arbitrary arrests and detention), and targeted media equipment itself (broadcasting equipment and offices). In 2015 alone, 6 journalists were arrested, 4 media firms were banned from operations, 3 journalists were attacked and physically injured, while over 20 journalists were threatened with detention for performing their duties.

Journalists continued to get into trouble with the government for inquiring about corruption denouncing poor governance, or criticizing repressive media laws. The obedience of the police has been repeatedly exploited to benefit politicians and violate the rights and freedoms of journalists.

Political leaders have the capacity to command the police and prosecution services to detain a journalist without following the standard procedures for arrest and detention enshrined in the penal code as well as in the criminal and civil procedures code.

Puntland Media Law reform

19 September 2015 Consultative meeting supported by the National Endowment for Democracy(NED): MAP mobilized Media stakeholders -Puntland lawmakers (50%), civil society organizations (22%), officials from the Puntland Ministry of information, culture and Heritage (5%) , and media practitioners (13% ) – for consultations on the review of the media law.

The consultations resulted in consensus on the revision for the Puntland Media Law, participants proposed a technical team to lead the law review in liaison with the Puntland Ministry of Information, Communication, Culture and Heritage, the Media Association of Puntland , and the Puntland parliamentary committee on media affairs.

Despite the withdrawal of support for the outcome of the consultative process on the review of the Puntland Media Law by the Puntland Minister for information, the tireless lobby targeting the Puntland Presidency and the parliament secured ; 28th October 2015 at the agenda setting session of the Puntland parliament, 40 MPs voted for the media law to be inclusive in the Parliament agenda for discussion. As of date the Puntland media law is #13 out #15 agenda points set for discussion in the parliamentary session 2015/2016.

Defending Press Freedom

  • MAP defended successfully 100% of all arbitrary arrests of journalists and the banning of media businesses by the Puntland government in 2015.
  • MAP successfully coordinated local and international press freedoms defenders in widespread protests and media campaigns condemning the government’s acts of repression and calling for appropriate remedial action for the injustices.
  • For the first time, by providing legal support, MAP helped a media business win a case brought to court by the Puntland government. Sahan Radio beat the Puntland government in Sahan Vs Puntland State in 2015.
  • For the first time, by providing legal support, MAP helped a media business win a case brought to court by the Puntland government. Sahan Radio beat the Puntland government in Sahan Vs Puntland State in 2015.

The kind of news that gets “silenced” is exactly the kind that the public needs to know. Information is quintessential in order to make the best decisions in their lives, be it economic, social or political. This access to reliable and quality information is the very cornerstone of democracy, good governance, and effective institutions.

2016 promises to offer enhanced opportunities for MAP to deepen our efforts to bring a better environment for journalists in Somalia through increased negotiations with the Puntland government on reviewing the media law, and improving government resolve to end violence and impunity against Somali journalists – with valued educational improvements for journalists, strategic partnerships to expand journalists access to information, relentless advocacy for press freedom, a significant push for policy review as well as courage, tenacity, and a spirit of solidarity in a dangerous environment of work.



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