The Somaliland Society of Independent Journalists and Writers (SSJW) is deeply concerned about the Somaliland government’s submission to parliament of a new press law that if adopted would severely strict freedom of expression.
The draft legislation introduces new press-related crimes, including libel and prison sentences for journalists who violate its provisions.
The administration of president Sillanyo wants the existing liberal Somaliland press law to be replaced by the new restrictive regulations which were regrettably formulated with donor assistance that was channeled through SONSAF.
We urge the parliament to reject this new draft press law which if passed would place undue restrictions on the work of journalists and be used to prevent them from exercising their right of freedom of expression.
The SSJW also voices it’s grave concerns over a draft anti-terrorism law currently before the Somaliland.
Parliament that could be used to enormously undermine freedom of the press. Under this anti-terrorism legislation, journalists would be restricted to report on anything that relates to state and public security and another range of issues important to the Somaliland people. Again this piece of anti-terror legislation was designed with the aid of external assistance.
We believe that any legislative counter-terrorism measures should be embedded in a framework that protects human rights and freedom of expression in line with international law.
SSJW urges the Somaliland parliament to vote down the draft anti-terrorism law which in its current form violates the basic human rights of Somaliland citizens and could be used as a pretext for stifling freedom of the press.
Under the current Sillanyo administration, Somaliland journalists have been subjected to harassment, physical abuse, intimidation, arbitrary current and show trails amounting to political retribution.
The 3 newspapers of Hubaal, Haatuf and Somaliland Times have now been closed for months for essentially reporting on corruption allegedly by the minister of Minerals, Hussein Abdi Duale a.k.a Hussein Osman Farah, and for exposing the increasingly influential role usurped and played by Bashe Awil, the president’s son-in-law, in the highest levels of decision-making in government.
The on-going trial of Haatuf Media Network’s chairman, Yusuf Gabobe, and the outlet’s editor, Ahmed Egeh, for defaming 2 ministers and the president’s son-in-law is yet another shocking example of the Sillanyo government’s intolerance of freedom of expression.
The fact that Basha Awil, a self-styled businessman, is among the 3 plaintiffs being represented by government lawyers in the defamation case against Haatuf journalists, makes a mockery of justice and fair court proceedings.
The SSJW calls on the Somaliland government to reconsider its unlawful decision to close down Hubaal, Haatuf and the Somaliland Times and allow the 3 newspapers resume publication without any conditions attached.
The journalist community is urging donors to meet their international obligations in urgently coming to the support of the freedom of expression being under attack in Somaliland and to refrain from actions that could undermine freedom of the press. We need actions not talk.
The Somaliland Society for Independent Journalists & Writers (SSJW)
Imarat Al-Khayr Bld
Hargeysa – Somaliland Email: [email protected]
Tel : 528015/0634429559/0634195475