House of Commons
Freedom of expression in Somalia
EDM #206
Tabled 24 February 2020
2019-21 Session
That this House is concerned by the new draft media law in Somalia that would restrict the right to freedom of expression; notes that the Federal Parliament of Somalia sought to amend media legislation to grant the Federal Ministry of Information extensive powers to interfere in the work of journalists and independent media houses, and impact on public interest reporting in country; further notes that the law has a number of unacceptably broad restrictions on the content of what may be published or broadcast, including a prohibition on false news, encouragement of tribalism, baseless propaganda and violating sound Somali culture; believes that the draft law would also establish a costly and unnecessary new system of prosecutors to bring and hear cases regarding media crimes; is concerned that the draft law includes legal sanctions for a long new list of media crimes which are vague and breaches a journalist’s right to confidential sources; agrees with the National Union of Journalists and the National Union of Somali journalists that the draft law could enable the Somali authorities at both Federal and State level to arbitrarily prosecute journalists to undercut free expression and access to information; and calls on the Government to press President of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed to think again about the draft legislation and to decline to sign the media law and to ensure that any proposed amendments are in line with Somalia’s constitutional and international obligations and commitments to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the right to freedom of expression.