Mogadishu, 3 May,2018: On 3rd May of every year, events to mark the world press freedom are held across the world.
On this of 2018, Somali Media Association (SOMA) and the Ministry of information, culture and tourism in partnership with International Media Support (IMS) and Fojo institute organized a high-level event to commemorate “The World Press Freedom Day”.
The theme of this year’sWorld Press Freedom Day is entitled “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law”.
High-level officials from the Ministry of information, culture and tourism, media house owners, directors, civil society organizations and journalists attended the event.
Mr. Ahmed Isse Gutale, speaking on behalf of the chairman of SOMA took the opening remarks and welcomed all the guests. He thanked all the attendees as well congratulated on this important day. He addressed on the process to achieve free and responsible media in Somalia and stated that over the years, Somali media has been gradually developing as well the federal government laws on media. He further said that if we (Somali media) were to act morally and responsibly in our broadcastings, then there will be no need to have rules and regulations to govern the media.
SOSCENSA chairman, Dini Mohamed Dini, addressed importance of the media as promoting the society, accuracy, responsibility among others. He expressed concern over incompetence of some journalists and their unawareness of their roles in promoting the society. He emphasized the need for an accuratereport (free from any influence). He likened an accurate report to that of pure water, for impure water cannot be drunk similar to a corrupt or inaccurate report.
“There are two things essential to every journalist with each one having importance over the other. Law and knowledge. The knowledge enables the journalist to prepare professional report whereas the law creates responsibility. When you prepare the report, first present it to yourself, if well broadcast it and if not, do not broadcast it.” Said Dini.
Another issue raised by Dini is the lack of well experienced journalists as the country is just recovering from a post conflict forcing the profession to become younger, less experienced and ultimately less professional.
Dunia Mohamed Ali, Program officer from IIDA described journalist as a teacher, in that ethics and moral behaviour should be observed as they are the educators and informers of the society. She said, Somali media should report on the positive side the country, the beautiful beaches, mountains, etc and create programs that promote the society such as programs on farming, fishing and others. She urged the government to benefit from the media as they are able to access and inform the society.
Abdinor Mohamed Ahmed, communications Director of the office of the president on his part addressed the importance of the press freedom. He stated that they are in the process of facilitating independent media access to Villa Somalia. He said we would create a body that will connect the government and the independent media for efficient coverage of news.
Somalia deputy attorney general Avv Muse Maalim Mohamed who spoke at the event said that they will defend the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of media but requested the media to also be responsible and ethical.
“We all stand for the press freedom, protection of the media and the reporters,” said Avv Muse.
Deputy Minister of information and public affairs who is also the acting minister, Mr Abdirahman Idan, expressed the freedom of the press. He said that the Somali government is committed to promoting Freedom of Expression that is enshrined by the article 18 of the Somali constitution. The acting minister urged the media to take active role in the efforts to respond to the floods victims in the areas the two rivers pass i.e. Shabelle and Jubba River.
In the later part of the event, two panel discussions were held; a panel to discuss on the “Effectiveness of the Independent Media in Countries Recovering from Post-conflict and the Restrictions on Broadcasting” and another entitled, “Social Media Influence on Accuracy and Responsibility of the Media”.
In the panel discussion entitled “Effectiveness of the Independent Media in Countries Recovering from Post-conflict and the Restrictions on Broadcasting”, different views were exchanged. Explanations on press freedom, importance of effective independent media and restrictions on broadcastings were highlighted.
Ahmed Abdi Aynab, a journalist and a lecture put press freedom as “media that is free from any influence; influence on wealth, ideology, military or/and ethnicity/tribalism.
He said on the importance of effective of independent media as promoting society, building personality, informing the society and providing critical information to government which will promote good governance.
Lastly, on the restrictions, he stated that media outlets are to abstain from broadcasting issues against the belief of the people (religion), norms regarded normal but in essence bad.
In the second panel, social media ethics and ways to curb were discussed. The panel suggested that journalists should observe ethics and morality to act as a role model.