SJS condemns hijacking of Somali Press Council formation process by NISA and Ministry of Information officials

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MOGADISHU, Somalia 20 March, 2024 – The Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) strongly condemns the hijacking of the Somali Press Council formation process by officials from the National Intelligence (NISA) and Ministry of Information, and opposes the unconstitutional announcement made on March 14 by the Office of the Somali Prime Minister, unilaterally appointing nine individuals.

While we strongly advocate for the independence of the Somali Press Council and believe its formation should only occur through consensus among all stakeholders, it was surprising that the Somali Prime Minister, under the proposal of the Information Ministry, appointed nine individuals, most of whom are affiliated with the Ministry of Information and the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), to the council.

In this regard, SJS today joined other media groups in denouncing this move and calling for an immediate withdrawal of the unconstitutional appointment made by the prime minister’s office on Thursday March 14.

“We are deeply concerned about the interference of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) in matters affecting the media and independent journalists. We call for the dissolution of the appointed individuals as we urge the initiation of a transparent, clean, and honest process to select or elect members of the Somali Press Council that is independent and inclusive,” SJS Secretary-General Abdalle Mumin said.

“The appointment of these nine individuals, 80% of whom are employees of the Ministry of Information and 20% officers at the National Intelligence, cannot be accepted and will not work,” emphasized Mr. Mumin. “Furthermore, these appointments occurred while our journalist community was mourning the loss of yet another colleague, Abdikarin Ahmed Bulhan, without showing any sign of empathy or ensuring accountability for his death.”

SJS urges all media groups and journalists to unite and stand firm against any attempt to violate press freedom and reject any measures intended to jeopardize constitutional rights of the media community.

While reiterating its previous positions, SJS emphasizes the following:

  • The Somali Press Council must be an impartial and professional self-regulation body, free from government influence and interference, and any conflict of interests.
  • The Somali Press Council should be a parliamentary-regulated body with complete independence in terms of funding and operations.
  • As required by the Provisional Constitution, the Somali Press Council should be inclusive of all stakeholders.
  • The formation of the National Human Rights Committee should precede the establishment of the Somali Press Council.
  • The National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) should refrain from interfering in the formation of the Somali Press Council, and no representative from NISA should join the Somali Press Council.
  • The Media Amendment (2020) should be immediately reviewed and corrected to comply with the Constitution and international human rights standards.
  • The Somali Press Council should be a facilitator body rather than punisher, and therefore, the imposition of excessive fines, registration fees for media houses, and accreditation fees for journalists should be repealed and ceased.
  • SJS remains committed to contributing to the formation of an independent Somali Press Council to defend the core principles of press freedom and upholding constitutional rights in Somalia.

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