Journalists mandated to send stories to govt before publishing as Somalia cracks down on free press

Journalists mandated to send stories to govt before publishing as Somalia cracks down on free press

Somalia has ordered local media houses to submit their content for approval from the government before publishing, worsening the escalating attack on journalists and media organisations in the country.

Deputy Information Minister, Abdulrahman Yusuf, says he is unaware of the order. Despite his denial, media houses across the country told Voice of America that the directive came from the president’s communications office. 

Risaala Media Corporation, one of the stations affected in the capital of Mogadishu, says the objective of the new policy is censorship and cannot be implemented. 

“The objective was censorship, because directing [the media] to send the items is just singling out the items that they don’t like.

“Therefore, its implementation is risky to Somali media and cannot be implemented,” Mohammed Abdiwahab, the paper’s managing director said. 

Abdirahman Adani, editor of Garowe Online, said the new directive “paves the way for the government to silence the independent media, which is now the only trusted source of news for the public.”

He added that “This directive bars the media from disseminating the truth, and it also bars the media from airing unbiased news. It also blocks the media from reporting any items which are against the will of the government.” 

Several media practitioners have congressed under the aegis of Somali Journalists Syndicate to protest the directive which has been described as authoritarian and an affront to editorial independence. 

“It will have an impact on journalists and media, and if it is not rejected, then there will be no media or journalists reporting the truth,” Mohamed Bulbul, the group spokesperson said.

“We are not ready to work with the government in the implementation of this directive, but we are ready to work with the government in ways to improve freedom of expression,” the group added.

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