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Puntland: Media law reform – Parliament approves bill to repeal the ‘’Draconian Provisions’’ in the Puntland Media Law.


Newly parliament approved media bill aims to give back Puntland journalists a legal enabling environment for an independent media practice and pushes back government interference on aspiration to dictate what is to be written, said and shown. The reform also paves away of an independent establishment of a Puntland media council that will have the power to receive complaints from the public against the media and to resolve disputes through mediation.


Garowe, 12 Dec 2016; Parliament’s vote ends more than 2 years of work unceasingly to reform the Puntland Media law. Puntland lawmakers by an overwhelming majority voted Tuesday 6-December in favor to replace the provisions of concern in the Puntland media law while promoting a free, fair and independent Media practice in the Puntland State of Somalia, 32 out of 37 present members of parliament voted ‘’YES’’ to advance a measure that permit the reform of the restrictive media law.

For Puntland media practitioners and the wider Somalia media fraternity, Civil society and human rights advocates, Tuesday’s vote stands as a seminal moment in the two and half years protracted effort to reform Puntland’s law.

‘’Praises be to the Almighty Allah(SWC), today is our day – a day for the likeminded human rights advocates-today is a day we expected throughout the past two-and-half-years of lobby and advocacy to reform the Puntland media law, adding, MAP is grateful and welcomes the Parliament’s votes and listening to our concern on provisions in the media law that have vastly undermined free and independent media practice in Puntland – Said Faisal Khalif Barre, MAP chair, in a statement moments after the parliament approval.

The Media Association of Puntland on behalf the Puntland media practitioners as well as the Somali media fraternity affectionately welcomed the parliament vote to reform the restrictive media law calling the overwhelming parliamentarian vote a true sign and a vital advancement towards a sounding democracy while promoting the fundamental Human rights on freedom of expression.

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Tuesday’s parliament media bill endorsement that seeks Presidential enactment will replace the pre-existing dissuading media law which was passed by the Puntland administration in July 2014 embraced with provisions legalizing the repression of freedom of speech and media freedoms, whereas giving the government swarming authority on who can become a journalist as well as the power to suspend journalists and media firms at their whim.

The new rules include provisions on:
• “clear and affirmative consent” on the establishment of the Puntland Media council,
• ‘’clear direction’’ on who accredits journalists, according to this new bill Puntland journalist’s accreditation will be under the responsibility of the Puntland Media council which is yet to be established.

Promoting Media sustainability project – NED supported project that led the advocacy and lobby activities;

In protest to the restrictive media law, MAP launched a significant advocacy and lobby media law reform targeting the Puntland Ministry of information, the Puntland lawmakers and the of the Puntland President.

Timeline of key events
In 2015 September, under the National Endowment for democracy (NED) supported project ‘’ promoting media sustainability in Puntland’’, 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. The appointment of a review committee comprising 6-technical experts drawn from the media stakeholders in Puntland.

b. They suggested the committee to consult with Puntland Ministry of information, MAP, Civil society groups and the Parliamentary media committee during the review of the medial law.

c. Participants further suggested the reviewed draft law be delivered to the Minister of information who will then inform the President and submit to parliament to pass the bill and finally back to the President for enactment.

25th October 2015: At the 36th Puntland parliament session (Mr. Abdiweli the state president was present in this meeting) the association has given a speech at the session urged both parliament and government officials to respect the media freedom and collaborate on the review of the controversial media law as of the outcome of the19-20/9/2015 consultative media stake holders workshop.

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. This comes as a major achievement and hope for MAP despite the Minister of information’s unwillingness to support the media law reform initiatives. As of date the Puntland media law is #13 out #15 agenda points set for discussion in the parliamentary session 2015/2016.

August 7, 2016 MAP and the Ministry of information signed a historic landmark agreement following a 2year battle on policy reform, while acknowledging the need of change, both sides agreed to review the media law and bring it in conformity with the Puntland constitution article 25 and international standards of freedom of expression (Media independence and access to information).

6th December 2016; Media law reformed – Parliament approves new rules fit for the Media independence and Freedom of Expression. Parliament’s vote ends more than 2 years of work on a reform of Puntland Media law. The reform will replace the contemporary restrictive media law which was passed by the current Puntland administration.
MAP is extremely grateful to the National endowment for democracy (NED) for their support;

  • Participants trained by the NED supported project launched the Puntland Media Law review lobby and were key drivers in successful advocacy campaigns for press freedom in 2015.  The lobbying targeted the office of the Puntland president and the Puntland parliament.

It is without qualms that, without the NED support we could not make it to this astonishing attainments on the media law reform, adding, we sincerely appreciate the National Endowment for democracy (NED) in supporting MAP’s effort on Promoting, protecting freedom of expression and media freedoms while developing professional and responsible media in Puntland State, Somalia, Said MAP chair in his remarks while acknowledging the NED support.

The Media Association of Puntland (MAP) similarly is thankful to the ground-support too, received from individual journalists, human rights activists, local and international groups for their efforts, critical minds and insistent commitment while on the advocacy and lobby journey campaigning against the restrictive Media law. Specifically, UNSOM human rights office Garowe, the Human rights watch (HRW) Nairobi office, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP), Puntland independent office of Human rights, Puntland Non-State Actor’s Association (PUNSAA) and finally the technical-expertise major contributor to the campaign the TAYO center for Media excellence (TCME).

Next steps
The regulation will enter into force after presidential enactment, constitutionally the president has got 30 days to either sign and or to disagree and bring back to parliament. Its provisions will be directly applicable in all media outlets and practitioners in the Puntland State of Somalia.
On the presumption that the Puntland president signs the bill into law, hopefully, there will be a need to mobilize, raise awareness and train Puntland journalists, Puntland courts, lawyers and Human rights groups on the media law to ensure a successful implementation of the media law to prevent misunderstanding and lack of knowledge and awareness of the law regulating the media.
Finally, the Media Association of Puntland will also seek support and take a major role in coordinating the establishment process of the Puntland media council. If this goes as planned the Media Association is confident that Media in Puntland will far much improve to a standard equivalent to developed democratic nations around the globe.


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