Puntland Authorities Ban Three Radio Stations in attempt to Suppress the Press Freedom
MOGADISHU, Somalia, March 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) protests the ban imposed on three radio stations by the Puntland Ministry of information, communication and culture, showing the downgrading level of the Press Freedom in the semi-autonomous regions controlled by the Puntland Administration.
The Puntland ministry of information issued a decree dated on 21 February 2013, which was addressed to the all media houses operating in the semi-autonamous regions of Puntland ordering that ‘No radio station can reproduce or air any materials and programs of a media station that is not licensed under the ministry, such as Radio Ergo, Radio Bar-Kulan and Radio Hirad.”. The letter which was signed by the Puntland minister of Information, communication and culture, Eng. Mohamoud Aideed Dirir, was put its subject line: “Notice” and was sent to the radio stations on March, 13, 2013.
Radio Ergo is a humanitarian news service based in Nairobi supported by a Danish organization, the International Media Support (IMS). Radio Hirad is based in Hargeysa and supported by the Free Press Unlimited of the Netherlands and Radio Bar-kulan is a UN funded Public broadcaster based in Nairobi and Mogadishu. The three radio stations has taken part the recent draughts that killed thousands of women and children in Somalia and promote culture of dialogue, peace development among other things.
The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) calls the decision to ban the three radio stations, ‘A backward step to further threaten the freedom of expression and the free press which has no legal basis’ and calls for the Puntland administration to withdrew its decision and allow the radio stations to resume operations.
“The decision to ban the radio stations lacks legal basis and contradicts both the Puntland constitution and the provisional federal constitution.” Burhaan Ahmed Dahir, NUSOJ Supreme Council president said, “Journalists and media stations here in Puntland can not accept draconian and repressive rules which the ministry wants to impose and silence the independent media.”
“I call for the Ministry of Information to lift the ban against the radio stations and open consultations with the draft media law in order for the journalists and the media houses to self regulate.” Mr. Dahir added.
The Puntland ministry of Information introduced a repressive media bill on December 2012, which the ministry denied consultations from the media stakeholders and prompted the media stations and the journalists in Puntland to oppose its compliance. This, however, created a rift between the ministry and the media stakeholders.
Several attempts from other ministries to intervene went unsuccessful.
Late December, 2012, the Puntland ministry of information filled a legal case to the Attorney General office against the journalists and the media houses in Puntland for not complying the draft media Bill, which was never endorsed by the Puntland parliament. However, the case lacked legal grounds, and was rejected by the Attorney General office taking in a letter copied to the National Union of Somali Journalists.
“The ministry should not intimidate and threaten to the journalists and come up with a new strategy and develop cooperation with the independent Media and the journalists.” Mohamed Ibrahim, NUSOJ Secretary General said, “The ministry should let the all radio stations to resume operations and give full respect the freedom of information and the freedom of the press.”
Puntland authorities shut down Radio Horseed FM, an privately owned radio station, at the commercial port town of Bosaso in Bari region on October 6, 2012. Since then, the radio stations remains silent.