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Farmaajo signs into law amended Media Act

Storyline:National News

President Mohamed Farmaajo has assented into the amended Media Law following its passage by both houses of parliament.

The Media Act which came into law in 2016 was subsequently amended following an uproar from local media and international pressure groups over sections of the law which was termed as oppressive.

The Upper House passed the Bill in January injecting amendments such as the creation of a Publish Service Broadcasting to cushion state funded media outlets from political influence. The Lower House which approved the Bill in May 2017 removed fixed financial penalties on journalists for violation of the law.

Article 5 of the law had set a fine of between $500 and $3000 but MPs struck out the caping leaving it to the courts to determine the amount on a case by case basis.

Other contentious areas in the Bill as passed by the Lower House include the definition of a journalist which reads as anyone with a minimum of two years’ experience in the media industry.

Equally, of concern was on the responsibilities of a journalist. Article 36 reads, “A journalist must not infringe on the rights of individuals, institutions, and places religion, Islam, the laws of the country and good Somali culture.”

Stakeholders, however, have questioned what constitutes ‘good Somali culture’.

The law also creates the Somali Media Council to regulate media practice in the country.