Statement at the House of the People on the Amended Media law
Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism of the Federal Republic of Somalia, H.E. Abdirahman Omar Osman (Eng. Yarisow) on Saturday 23 September 2017 presented the amended media law before the House of the People in order for the parliamentarians to take their constitutional duty on the law in order to approve it.
” It is a great pleasure for me to come before you and present the amended media law, at the same time, I thank you for your valuable role in representing the Somali society including me”. Minister Eng. Yarisow said
The Minister provided details about the historic stages of the media law that the then Interim Federal Parliament passed for the first time in 2007 as though its procedure was not officially completed. Since then there were many attempts to make amendments.
The Minister thanked his predecessors Ministers Mareye and Duhulow who prepared this media law that went through a rigorous consultation with stakeholders in 2013 to 2015. H.E. Mustaf Dhuhulow brought the media law before the cabinet in September 2014 then finally former Minister Mareye presented it to the parliament in 2015 and they passed it on 28th December in 2015. And then this year the ministry of information made further consultations with key stakeholders.
Minister Eng. Yarisow explained the reasons for amending the media law, saying it was the result of addressing concerns from media practitioners that requested some key points to be changed before taking effect.
“Considering a request from media practitioners, we promised to review it and started consultations as soon as I took office in April 2017, then on 6th May to 8th May, 2017 with Ministers of Information from Federal member states of Somalia here in Mogadishu in attendance with journalists from media group. We agreed to points that needed amendment, we then continued to put together the emended version till another consultation meeting happened in June, 2017. After that the ministry submitted amended version copies to the media practitioners and Ministers of Information in regional states on 22 June and 11 July 2017. The cabinet finally passed the media law on 13th of July 2017” Eng. Yarisow said.
Eng. Yarisow presented to the House of the People the articles that was emended as per below:
• In article 35, we removed the qualifications required from the journalist that was a university degree; we did this by considering their request and circumstances of the journalists.
• In article 18, we also removed conditions about the knowledge and exam required from the journalists.
• In article 5, we removed the term (criminal case) as all criminal cases are dealt with other laws and we didn’t want in the media law to mention any criminality at all. In this article we reduced the fine money to 300-1500 U.S dollar while it was 500 to 3000 U.S dollar earlier.
• In article 34, we changed the requirement for every citizen to pay TV license for watching a TV, but instead we said that Cable providers (Companies) should pay taxes to the charges that they make to viewers We make this because it was impossible for everybody to pay charges and it would be difficult to manage it.
• In Article 14 – Somali Media Committee – We added a section that prohibits Owners, managers, journalists working for media stations, and editors from becoming a member of the Committee in order to avoid conflict of interest. In this article we also changed the term of the committee to be 2 years while it was 4 years term in office. This is because this committee is new and for the first time and may face challenges. However, there is a clause to say that it can be renewed their term.
• In Article 33, We changed the service of state media and made it the service of Public Broadcasting, the reason is that there is a special need for Public Broadcasting Service as the country is going to have political parties and going to conduct elections of one person, one vote in 2020/1.
• In articles 16, 21, 27, 28,30 and 31, Roles of the ministers of regional states are included as per their request.
• Article 38, We changed Copy right into Intellectual Property Rights.
• Article 1, Consultations made over the terminologies with lawyers and made amendment, while the meaning remains the same.
Minister Eng. Yarisow said “You can understand the high priority of this media law and the importance to the development of media so that our citizens can get their fundamental rights of information and news that can promote the peace, development and the unity of the nation. Since we have received concerns from our journalists regarding some of the articles of the media law, we had no option but to consider their request. We then began consultations with key stakeholders including media practitioners and ministries of federal member states of the country.”
Eng. Yarisow continued to say “As a Minister I am committed and determined to promote the freedom of speech and free press as enshrined in article 18 of the provisional constitution, which is important to our journalists to exercise their full rights while ensuring to report responsibly and ethically. This media law gives more rights to journalists that are working in a extreme difficult circumstances and they deserve our collective support to stand shoulder to shoulder with them so that they can fulfill their roles and responsibilities to the society in accordance with the laws in the country. This media law establishes Somali Media Committee that regulates the media industry and implements the media law.”
Finally, Minister Eng. Yarisow has kindly requested and appealed to members of the House of the People to consider his presentation of the amended media law in order for them to debate and discuss as part of their constitutional rights with a view to adopt it after including their input and feedback to the media law.
Ministry of Information, Culture & Tourism