The Media Association of Puntland (MAP), in partnership with Free Press Unlimited (FPU) has implemented a 2-day conference to promote the safety and protection of journalists in commemoration of the international day to end impunity on crimes committed against journalists.
Held at the Martisoor hotel in Garowe from the 1-2 November 2023, event organized under the EU supported project ‘’building an independent, sustainable media sector and strengthening resilience to disinformation in Somalia’’.
The event was used to highlight the challenges facing journalists in performing their duties, Freedom of expression, and to present findings from a recent study on mis-disinformation carried out in Somalia by the BBC media action.
Coming at a time Puntland is facing political challenges surrounding the Puntland parliamentary and Presidential elections – the event was attended relevant and major media and security stakeholders including the Puntland Police commissioner Gen. Muumin, Police/CID ranks invited from the Garowe central police station as well as the Nugaal region, CSO groups, women activists and media executives.
At the inaugural session, both the Puntland police commissioner Gen. Mumin Abdi Shire and the MAP chair Mohamed Dahir Warsame spoke on the importance of having good working relations between the Media and the law-enforcement and how such relations empowers the public. Both officials embraced the decrease in tensions between the media and police, however, the threat to media and freedom of expression at the current context seeks attention.
”Today we gather here to hear from BBC media action’s recent study discoveries, remind ourselves on the current challenges the media enabling environment is facing and see how all parties could better collaborate on the public interest services” said Mohamed Dahir – Chair MAP briefing the participants on the objectives of the conference.
“As police, we acknowledge the importance of the media in our society and we will do our part in facilitating their work. I also want to highlight that knowing that the existing difficulties facing the implementation of the expected state elections, and knowing the fact that we the police are responsible for the security of the process – we will definitely need the media to work with us in communicating with the public” Said Gen. Mumin – Puntland’s police commissioner in his opening remarks at the conference.
On presentations, the BBC media action joined the conference remotely to present their findings on a very recent study on mis-disinformation, whereas, the lead facilitator Mohamed Jelle put in context the challenges facing the Puntland Journalists while also interpreting to the local political dispute on the local elections.
Thanks to the active participation of the conference attendance through the series of constructive arguments significantly observed through the plenary sessions. MAP pressed the law-enforcement on the need of clarity on State measures that limit freedom of expression seen to be interfering with media’s work and public’s right to express their views in general especially with the current political standstill.
MAP’s position that restricting freedom of expression must be provided by law, pursue a legitimate aim, and be necessary and proportionate was not contested, but media practitioners have highlighted that there is a need for law-enforcement to uphold the rule of law even if it is bitter.
The conference also called for support to MAP’s bid to establish the access to information act, as it will not only promote media accuracy but will also educate the public.
The Association has been meeting different stakeholders in the past recent weeks including the Puntland Electoral, rights groups and government stakeholders with the purpose to strengthen the media enabling environment during the this tough political times.