The Spokesman of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo is critising some Somali media for affiliating themselves with the Kenyan government in the maritime dispute between the two countries.
Speaking during the signing of the long-awaited (amended) media law on Wednesday, Mr Mohamed said that while journalists have the freedom to report, they have not shown sufficient fairness to Somalia, mostly because there has been no law to guide them.
“Journalists have the freedom to write whatever they want and some times they line up with other countries like the Kenyan government !in the maritime dispute),” he said.
“We see federal states treating journalist unfairly to an extent they cannot publish simple things.
I have also played a huge role for those journalists to get their freedom when they are arrested I call on the federal states to give the journalist their space so that they can be part of building the nation,.”
Kenya and Somalia are embroiled in a maritime dispute. Mogadishu sued Nairobi in 2014 at the International Court of Justice, seeking to redraw the sea boundary between them.
That case will be heard next year, having been delayed twice.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on Wednesday signed amended media bill into law which had been debated for the past two years.
But it is controversial.
The law does not protect the confidentiality of sources and says journalists can be held responsible for the consequences of disclosing confidential information. It says journalists can be fined for violations but does not specify the size of the fines. It also says that verdicts and sentences can be appealed before unspecified “competent jurisdictions,” opening the way to prison sentences.
It creates a press council to hear disputes such as defamation. But doesn’t override personal rights to sue.
It also doesn’t specify protection of journalists especially in the fave of gun-carrying terror merchants.
Somalia is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s deadliest country for journalists, according to the Reporters without Borders.
Some 28 journalists have been killed since 2013 (three of them last year). Arbitrary arrests are still frequent, especially in the northern regions of Somaliland and Puntland. A total of 18 journalists were arrested arbitrarily in 2019, according to the annual report of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).