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Amid scathing criticism over media oppression, Farmaajo pledges press freedom

Storyline:National News

President Mohamed Farmaajo has pledged his administration’s protection of the rights of journalists including repeal of draconian laws used against journalists following sustained criticism at his government over the oppression of journalists and media operations.

In a statement to mark World Press Freedom Day, the President noted journalists played a critical role ‘in reshaping the narrative of our nation’ adding the media was crucial in the country’s governance.’

“The media is crucial for good governance, patriotism, national building, and unity,” the head of state said.

“Be rest assured, the Penal Code of 1964, will be reformed to ensure it is not applied against journalists,” the President said in a day that saw media rights groups in the country issue a scathing criticism against his administration.

Goobjoog Media Group editor Abdiaziz Gurbiye was last month charged under article 20 of the 1964 Penal Code which criminalises ‘criticism and embarrassment of the president.’

A joint statement from five media organisations in Somalia Sunday journalists had in the last 12 months come under sustained pressure from the Somali government and the militant group Al-Shabaab.

The groups noted there were 81 attacks against journalists in the said period, 53 arbitrary arrests and killing of two journalists and while 12 others have been forced to leave the country due to death threats.

The media organisations wrote a protest letter to President Mohamed Farmaajo and Prime Minister Hassan Khaire calling for an end to the oppression of journalists.