NUSOJ Calls on Somaliland to open up broadcast media space

Regulation & Policy

On July 29, 2010, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) calls for the opening of the broadcast media space in Somaliland following a peaceful and a democratic transition of power in the recent presidential election on 26 June 2010.

For many years, Somaliland has constitutionally recognised media freedom and the establishment of independent media. However, the authorities have been hesitant in granting broadcast licenses to private or independent radio stations to enable them operate legally in the country under the guise of some unconstitutional justifications that Somaliland will descend to chaos and anarchy if the radio airwaves were opened up.

Until now, Somaliland airwaves is under strict government control but many people continue to get their information through television and radio channels, a sector that has not been opened up officially.

“We appeal to the newly elected President of Somaliland and his government to give practical support and facilitation for the establishment of radio stations in Somaliland so that people can enjoy and exercise their constitutional right to receive and impart information from other sources other than the government organs,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. “Democratic gains through the ballot box cannot be sustained and enjoyed unless radio airwaves are opened up and liberalised in line with the Somaliland constitution and international standards of free expression,” Omar added.

There have been cases of wanton attacks on journalists and media houses for the past several years including arrests, intimidations and the denial of broadcasting licence to Horyaal Radio, and defamation cases against print and online journalists.

The print media, despite having licences to operate, have been victimised for their independent reporting and are already facing the challenges of being the only alternative source of information and media in Somaliland. Judicial authorities in Somaliland are also not blameless in this regard following their persistent attack of the media. The judiciary has been accused of using its powers to frustrate freedom of expression in Somaliland. Nearly all legal cases against journalists have been ruled in favour of the government.

“Somaliland should make a clean start with the media by guaranteeing journalists their freedoms and rights. Judicial reforms should be undertaken to guarantee the independence of the legal system and to create confidence among the media fraternity. The judiciary should be viewed as trustworthy and independent institution that can defend the fundamental human rights of freedom of expression,” he added.

“We need the yet-to-be discussed media bill to be availed in the public arena for debate so that it can form part of the governmental reform in line with international standards of free expression,” Omar added.