Allow independent journalists to have uncensored access to presidential election scheduled on 15th May

MOGADISHU, Somalia 10 May, 2022 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and the Somali Media Association (SOMA) express great concern on the announcement by the Parliamentary Committee on Presidential Election, on Monday 9 May, which imposes restrictions on the independent journalists’ access to the presidential election scheduled to take place on 15 May, 2022.

A memo released by the Parliamentary Committee on Presidential Election imposed all independent journalists to stay out of the venue where the voting takes place and suggested that journalists “will be following the process from TV screens installed outside the hall”.

SJS and SOMA protest against this decision and call for both Speakers of the Federal Parliament to withdraw this restrictive decision and allow all journalists a full access to the voting venue.  We also condemn the restrictions and threats by the Haramcad police against journalists covering the recent election of the Speaker of the Lower House in Mogadishu’s Hangar venue.

We call on international partners to urge Parliament officials to provide journalists and media crew a full access to this important event. Police officers guarding the venue should be given a clear instruction that allow journalists access to the venue including the hall where lawmakers will be casting their vote.

Journalists play a major role in keeping the citizenry abreast of the current electoral process and raising awareness of various issues including the candidates and the transparency of the vote. Media acts as a mechanism for the prevention and investigation of allegations of violations or malpractice during the election. Any restrictive measures against journalists and their media houses will only weaken the credibility of the already marred electoral process in Somalia.

“We strongly protest against this unacceptable decision by the Parliamentary Committee on Presidential Election against journalists. We have already reached out to them and we hope that they retract this restrictive decision,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary-General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said “We also call international partners – particularly the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia – to urge authorities to allow independent media access to the voting venue without any restrictions or harassment.”

“As Somalia now concludes the delayed electoral process which is marred by many serious allegations of malpractice, it is again concerning that the Parliament is refusing the media to have access to the voting venue on 15 May. We ask all concerned officials to act quickly and withdraw this draconian decision,” Mohamed Osman Makaran, the Secretary-General of the Somali Media Association (SOMA) said.