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UN urges MPs to align Media Law with international standards

Storyline:National News
UN head in Somalia Michael Keating asked Parliament to review contentious media law to meet international standards. File Photo: Goobjoog News

UN chief in Somalia Michael Keating has called on Parliament to accord special attention to concerns by media industry stakeholders as it embarks on debate of the amendments to the Media Act 2015.

Noting that some of the provisions in the law failed the test of international standards, Keating asked the lawmakers to take cognizance of the issues and make the necessary amendments.

“A free and independent news media is essential for accountability and democracy,” said Keating. “Some provisions of the current media law do not appear to comply with international standards of media legislation and regulation. A careful and comprehensive review of the law and the proposed amendments will allow all key stakeholders to present their views. I hope the outcome of such a legislative process will promote a better environment for Somali journalists to practice their profession without fear.”

The UN urges lawmakers to give due consideration to the concerns raised by prominent members of Somalia’s news media about the existing law and the proposed amendments approved by the federal government’s cabinet, a statement from UNSOM said.

Information minister Abdirahman Yarisow tabled the Media Act 2015 Amendment Bill Sunday in the Lower House. The minister proposed amendments to a number of sections of the law including removing the degree qualification requirement for journalists. Instead, the minister proposed a two year experience as a requirement for one to be registered as journalist or academic qualification.

The minister also reduced fines imposed on journalists and media houses for violating the law from between $500 and $3000 to $300-$1500.