The main law governing the press (or more accurately, the media) is the Press Law (Law No: 27/2004) and its attached Press Code of Conduct which was added as a compromise. This Law, which is based on an Ethiopian law was initially proposed by the Government as far back as 1999 and has been vigourously opposed by many organisations and individuals. An illustration of the criticisms levelled against this law can be seen in the following submissions and press releases by the Somaliland Forum (see below). On the promulgation of the Law, the Forum recommended that the Law be reviewed within three years.
Ministers have repeatedly commented that the Government will be introducing amendments to the 2004 Press Law. The reports indicated that Ministers consider the law as being too lenient. Critics, however, claim that despite the clear provisions of the law, journalists are sometimes detained unlawfully.
The arrest and detention of the Managing Director and the editor of the Somali language daily, Haatuf, on 2 January 2006 and the criminal charges brought against them for articles relating to alleged corrupt practices of the President and his spouse has raises issues about use of old “insult” criminal laws against journalist. For an article exploring this issue and the Government’s apparent disregard of the civil regime set out in the Press Law- see Using Insult Laws is an Insult to the Somaliland Media and Public – the detention and trial of Haatuf Journalists (2007) and the Somaliland Law.com editorial (26/01/2007).
One of the drawbacks of this Law is that it purports to deal with all forms of the media when it would have made more sense to have separate legislation for the broadcasting media. Currently, no radios other than the Government owned Hargeisa Radio is allowed because of a ministerial decree banning privately owner radio. It is not clear under which law this decree has been issued and it has been argued that it is unlawful, but no one has challenged it at a court of law. Meanwhile the ban on radios broadcasting continues but some Somalilanders now utilise radio broadcasts from abroad
For more information about broadcasting laws, click here
Somaliland Media & Publications Bill 2007
The House of Representatives confirmed, at the start of its new session last week (4/11/2007), the receipt of a new Media Bill from the Gov’t. This Bill is based, almost word for word, on the Yemen Law No: 25 of 1990 on the Press & Publications which, even, Yemen is proposing to repeal.
Somalilandlaw.com urges the House of Representatives to reject this bill completely.
Somalilandlaw.com recommends instead that:
- Improvements of the current Press Law are made, in consultation with the media and the civil society.
- The self regulation of the press be strengthened.
- A modern civil law dealing with issues of libel adopted.
- All criminal sanctions in the Penal Code affecting the press repealed.
- All registration of press activities beyond that which is necessary for all businesses abolished.
- Separate broadcasting laws for both publicly owned and private broadcasting enacted.
- Further measures to entrench freedom of information and expression introduced.
- Clear sanctions and compensation for infringements of human rights introduced.
Somalilandlaw.com Editorial (07/01/2008) on the Media & Publications Bill 2007
Text of the Bill- SOMALI ENGLISH (unofficial translation based largely on the English version of the Yemeni Law) - large PDF file
Condemnation of the Bill by Editors of five Somaliland Newspapers :
Press Release (11/11/07) (Somali): (English Version: Somaliland Times Issue 304)
Some of the Comments & Submissions on the 2004 Press Law can be read here:
Somaliland Forum Second Submission on the Press Bill: An Appeal to the Parliament not to Pass the Bill 09/01/2004 - English Somali
Somaliland Forum Third Submission on the Press Bill: Somaliland Forum Calls for Review of the New Press Law in Three Years Time 09/02/2004 - English Somali
RECENT 2007 Somaliland Press & Media Issues:
The Haatuf Somaliland Daily Case (Supreme Court decision and analysis to follow - comments about the earlier court case, see Using Insult Laws is an Insult to the Somaliland Media and Public
Launch of Somaliland Article 32 Fund
Somaliland Media Law: A Concept Paper by Associate Dean, Adam Haji Ali Ahmed, of HARGEISA UNIVERSITY LAW FACULTY.
THE REPUBLIC OF SOMALILAND
PRESS LAW (LAW NO: 27/2004)
(Click here for the Somali version)
(Translated into English by Deqa Gelle Hidig, Ali Gulaid, and Ibrahim Hashi Jama)
The Somaliland House of Representatives
Having seen: Article 32 of the Constitution which guarantees the freedom of expression;
Recognising: That the establishment, advancement and development of an effective and free media is necessary for the realisation of the exercise of freedom of expression and for democracy;
Having considered: That the freedom of the press not only provides a venue for citizens to express their opinions but also plays a permanent role in the protection of the rights of all persons, and in the advancement of democratic traditions; whilst at the same time providing citizens opportunities to express informed views about the various significant issues and to state their opinions about how the affairs of the nation are conducted;
Has passed this Law:
This Law shall be titled: The Press Law (No: 27/2004)
Article 2: Definitions
In this Law, except where the context otherwise requires:
Press: means the creation of any work which affects the thoughts and opinions of the public at large, such as: newspapers, journals, periodicals, news agencies, radio, television, film and video, pictures, cartoons, books, music, and any other means of mass communication.Journalist: means any person who is engaged in the activities of the press.
Illegitimate Child: means a child whose father is unknown.
Rape: means the act of raping or attempting to rape.
Article 3: Freedom of the Press
a. The freedom of the press is recognized and enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Somaliland and is respected and valued in Somaliland.
b. No restraints can be imposed on the Press.
c. Any acts that can be construed as amounting to censorship are prohibited. d. Journalists may form professional organisations which have an umbrella association.
Article 4: Objectives of the Press
a. Gathering and disseminating of news.
b. Expressing opinions in respect of various issues.
c. Imparting critical or supportive statements on various issues arising within the country or abroad. d. Taking part in the formation of public opinion whilst using various methods.
Article 5: Right to engage in and to carry on press activities
Every Somaliland citizen has a right to engage in or carry on any press activity, either solely or jointly with others.
REGISTRATION OF THE PRESS
Article 6: Registration of the Press
a. Any person wishing to establish a press undertaking shall register himself at the Office of the Attorney General of the state, after he has fulfilled the conditions set out in this Law.
b. Any (press) undertaking which has already been registered and wishes to increase its production by issuing an existing newspaper title or a new press product, shall register the new press activity in accordance with the registration procedure.
c. If any government authority or office wants to establish any kind of press activity, it shall register in accordance with this Law.
Article 7: Registration conditions
1. Any application for registration shall include the following details:
- a. The name of the proprietor/s of the press activity.
b. The title of the press activity.
- c. The names of the chief editors whose level of education must not be lower than secondary school level.
- d. The type of the press or media that is been registered.
e. The address of the press activity and its location, such as district, neighbourhood, street, etc.
f. The name and address of the publisher of the press activity, if different from that of the proprietor.
g. Any press which produces work without registration shall have its product restrained until it is registered.
- 2. A press proprietor who changes his address shall inform immediately the Office of the Attorney General and the press association to which he belongs.
RIGHTS OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION
Article 8: Right of access to receive and impart information
1. A journalist shall not be imprisoned for undertaking press activities unless otherwise ordered by a competent court.
2. Unless otherwise restricted by law, any press and its agents shall have the right to seek, obtain and report news and information and acquire information from any government source of news and information.
3. Any press and its agents shall have the right to disseminate news and information and any other products of the press.
4. Journalists shall have the right to receive from the government any documents relating to their activities.
5. The disclosure and dissemination of the following matters are not allowed:
- a. comments relating to proceedings which have not been concluded and are still before a court; (and)
- b. unless the individual concerned consents, any personal information relating to a victim of a criminal act.
6. Disclosure of source of information: Only a court judge may question a publisher, editor or a reporter about the source from which he obtained or took information he used for his reporting, if it is necessary for the disposal of the proceedings in the court.
Article 9: The Right of Reply
1. Where any news or information which concerns an individual is reported in a press, such individual shall have the right to reply in the same press in which the report appeared.
2. The press in which such a report appeared shall give the individual concerned the opportunity to reply promptly to the report in the same manner and place in which the report was published/disseminated previously.
RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PRESS
Article 10: Complying with the Press Law
1. Every press shall have the duty to ensure that the press products it circulates are based on the truth and are balanced.
2. Every press shall have the duty to protect and secure secret information concerning armed forces bases, the dissemination of which may reveal to the enemy the military strategy and capabilities of the country.
3. Foreign journalists are prohibited from entering or photographing, without permission, the bases of and areas where the armed forces are deployed, as well as any other locations where entry is prohibited on a temporary basis for reasons relating to security.
4. The press is prohibited from publishing photographs or articles depicting the naked human body, unless such depiction is necessary for the purposes of knowledge.
5. The press is prohibited from publishing articles and commentaries, which disparage the practice of Islamic Sharia or the veneration of Islamic religion.
6. Any press which infringes the clauses of this article, shall be dealt with in accordance with the sanctions set out in the press code of conduct and in the other relevant civil laws of the country.
7. The press shall have the duty to pay licence fees.
8. The press is liable, in the same way as others, for the payment of taxes and customs charges relating to the importation of items and equipment for the press.
Article 11: Keeping records of information about journalists and authors
1. Every press shall have the duty to keep a record of the name and address of the author, journalist or editor of every press product.
2. An author or an editor of any press product who uses in any press the nickname by which a person is known and of which that person approves, shall add the full name of the person to the nickname.
Article 12: Matters to be indicated in press products
1. Any press which disseminates its products through printing, shall publish the name and address of its proprietor, the names, base, and addresses of the editor, the assistant editor and the publisher.
2. If a press product of a particular type is disseminated in another type of press, the name and address of the publisher and the name of the manager shall be indicated in a visible area.
3. If any press reproduces any news or information, which was originally issued by a news agency or was reported by another press, or was obtained from a specific source, it shall attribute it to the proprietor who originated it.
Article 13: Seeking confirmation
a) The press has the duty to be extremely careful of producing untruthful and erroneous written reports.
b) If, at any time, it is confirmed that any disseminated information was false or erroneous or was baseless reporting, it is the duty of the press concerned to correct it immediately in a prominent place.
c) It shall be the duty of any press to report truthfully and impartially the details and rulings issued in respect of any adjudication to which it is a concerned party.
Article 14: Comment and news
Without prejudice to the freedom of the press, it shall be the duty of the press to separate comments from news.
Article 15: Privacy
Trespassing; investigating matters of a personal nature without consent and with the use of telephoto lens to take pictures, without consent, of persons in private homes, shall only be permitted if it can be proved or reasonably known that these measures are aimed at protecting the public interest.
Article 16: Private residence is defined as:
a) Any property occupied privately, including its garden and its surrounding buildings, but excluding neighbouring yards or open car parking area in front of it, or the partitions surrounding the property, or the roads in its vicinity used by the public.
b) Hotel guest rooms, but not all the other parts of hotels.
c) Rooms in hospitals or health centres which are used for treating or resting patients.
Article 17: Listening devices
Unless otherwise required for the protection of the public interest, journalists cannot rely on and publish material obtained through the use of secret listening devices (as used by spies) or through eavesdropping of private telephone conversation or through secret recording of private conversation.
Article 18: Special matters
The freedom of the person shall not be infringed, and this, in particular, covers investigations relating to hospital patients and persons in custody who are appearing at courts.
Article 19: Proper conduct of the press
The media has a proper standard of conduct and its reporting shall be correct and balanced.
Article 20: Pretence
Journalists shall not obtain or seek news or take pictures whilst using false or erroneous names.
Article 21: Methods of obtaining news
a) Journalists shall not obtain or seek news, information or pictures by means of threats or coercion.
b) Editors shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with these matters.
Article 22: Intrusion into bereavement and grief
The press shall conduct in a respectful manner its news-gathering in situations involving bereavement and grief.
Article 23: Interviewing and taking pictures of children
Journalists shall not, in general, hold interviews or take pictures of children under 15 years of age so as to discuss with them matters concerning the welfare of these or other children without the presence or consent of their parents or without the presence of an adult who is responsible for these children as set out in international laws relating to the rights of children.
Article 24: Children and allegations of rape
a) Notwithstanding the fact that it is not unlawful, the press must not reveal the identity of children, aged less than 15 years, who have been involved in rape allegations as victims, witnesses or accused persons.
b) In any press report relating to the crime of rape committed against a children:
- accused persons who are adults shall be named;
- the criminal act shall be referred to as “a serious criminal act which has been committed against a young child” or in another appropriate similar fashion;
- the child who was the victim of the crime shall not be named, nor photographed; (and)
- care shall be taken not to mention in the news anything that can point to the child, if there is any familial relationship between the child victim and the accused.
Article 25: Rape victims and illegitimate children
The press shall not identify rape victims or pregnancy outside marriage and shall avoid disseminating any information that could compromise the anonymity of these persons unless there are clear reasons, allowed under the law, which justify the identification of the victims.
Article 26: Discrimination
The press shall avoid any demeaning or derogatory remarks relating to a person’s colour, nationality, level of knowledge, mental or physical health, or disability.
Article 27: Responsibility for standard of conduct
Editors are responsible for the conduct of their journalists, and shall ensure that the reports submitted by persons who are not their employees are done in accordance with the standards of conduct of the press.
Article 28: Importation of foreign press
The foreign press and its agents may operate in the Republic of Somaliland, and their rights and duties are the same as the indigenous press and shall be governed by this Law.
Article 29: The transitional period
The requirement of registration of the press set out in Article 6 shall not affect the press which has already been registered.
Article 30: The duty to co-operate with the press
1) The officers of the government shall co-operate with and assist the press so as to advance the principle of the right of public to receive information.
2) The government shall encourage the press and shall, as far as possible, assist it.
Article 31: Repeal
Any law, decree, circular, or order which is in conflict with this Law shall become null and void when this Law comes into force.
Article 32: Implementation of this Law
This Law shall come into force on the date when it signed by the President of the Republic of Somaliland.
For the Somaliland Press Code of Conduct referred to in this Law, see below:
SOMALILAND PRESS CODE OF CONDUCT
XEER-HOOSAADKA ANSHAXA SAXAAFADA SOMALILAND
Sida ururada kale ee shaqaalaha (Trade Unions), waxa ururkan loo sameeyay dano ilaalin iyo dhaqaale oo ka wanaagsan kii ay ku sugnaayeen ka hor intaanay samaysan ururkooda.
Ururka Saxaafadda ee Somaliland wuxuu dhiirigelinayaa xubnaha ururkiisu inay sii hagaajiyaan shaqadooda, isla markaana ka dhigaan heerkooda anshax mid sare oo ka dhawrsoon dhammaan akhlaaqiyaadka xun-xun.
Halgan dheer oo loo soo maray dhismaha urur Suxufiyiiinta Somaliland leeyihiin, waxay horseedayaashooda iyo kuwa kale ee kaga dambayn doonaba ay maskaxda ku hayn doonaan ujeedooyinka loo aas-aasay ururka, waxayna samaysteen shuruuc anshax oo aanay ujeedada loo sameeyay ahayn oo qudha in lagu ciqaabo cidda ku xad gudubta, balse waxay ujeedadiisu tahay in xubnahiiisu ay helaan xornimo buuxda oo ay ku soo bandhigaan waxyaabaha runta ah ee ay indhahooda ka qaadaan.
Xubin kasta oo ka tirsan ururka laba arrimood ayuu xaq u leeyayh;
Inuu ku dacwoodo ama dacwooto oo midna uu ku leeyahay/leedahay urur midna loo shaqeeyaha.
Labadaa arrimood ma noqonayaan kuwa iska horyimaada hadday ilaa iyo inta uu ku dhaqmaayo loo shaqeeyuhu shuruudaha ay isla qaateen ururka iyo loo shaqeeyaha ee la xidhiidha xuquuqda shaqo ee suxufiga oo waafaqsan mabaadiida ururada shaqaalaha.
Xorriyadda Saxaafadda waxa lagu damaanad qaaday sharciga aas-aasiga ah ee Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland oo ogol madax bannaanida iyo xorriyadda khabarka. Soo bandhiggda afkaarta iyo naqdiga. Warfdidiyeenada, tifaftirayaasha iyo suxufiyiinta ku shaqaynaya ee dhawraya xirfadooda waxa khasab ku ah in ay dhawraan oo u dhug yeeshaan masuuliyadda ay u hayeen bulshada guud iyo kor u qaadida sharafta saxaafadda, waa inay hawshooda warfaafinta ah ku fuliyaan karaankooda ugu sareeya iyo rumayntooda.isla markaasna waa inaanay marna ogolaan wixii dano shakhsi ah oo hawshooda u duwi karta meel aan loo baahnayn iyo tallaabooyin aan meeshaba ku jirin, mabaadiida suxufinimada waxa biyo shubkoodu yahay ku dhaqanka anshaxa Saxaafadda, anshaxyadaas ayaa hawsha ku meegaarsan oo ay weheliyaan dastuurka iyo sharciyadda dastuurka, si loo dhawro qiyamka Saxaafadda iyo ku dhaqanka iyo fulinta mabadiida xorriyadda saxaafadda.
Anshaxa xirfadyahanimo ayaa qof kasta oo ay waxyeelo ka soo gaadhay Saxaafaddu xaq u siinaya inuu ku dacwoodo. Ashkatada iyo dacwooyinka waain laga raaligeliyo haddii ay yihiin kuwi si qalad ah u dhacay oo anshax xirfadeedka meel ka dhac ku ah.
Qod: 1aad: Ixtiraam runta, ilaali xuquuqda aadamaha iyo inaad si sugan ugu waranto dadweynaha, kuwaas oo ah mabaadiiida ugu muhiimsan ee Saxaafadda.
Qod: 2aad: Faafinta war khaas ah oo lagu soo bandhigayo ereyo ama masawiro, waa in ay suxufiyiintu ay aad uga taxadaraan oo iska hubiyaan xaqiiqda iyaga oo tixgelinaya xaaladaha jira, waana in aanay macnaha qaloocin ama been abuu rka dhigin Tifaftiradu, oo aan loo tifaftiran si warka been abuur ka dhigaysa, ciwaanka iyo warbixinada sawirku.
Dhukumentiyaasha waa in loo soo bandhigo si sax ah oo sugan, wararka aan la xaqiijin, xanta iyo sheekooyinka la isola dhex maro iyo wixii male ah waxa la isticmaalayaa xigasho. Marka la soo saaro sawirada summadeed ee wax astaan u ah, waa inay warbixintooda ku cadahay in aanay ahayn sawiro Dhokumentariyo.
Qod: 3aad: War ama caddaymo la faafiyay oo markii dambe la arkay in aanay sax ahayn, waxa loo saxayaa si deg deg ah iyo sida ugu haboon ee ay arrinta u waafaqsantahay.
Qod: 4aad: Jidad khiyaamo ah waa in aan loo marin doonista iyo helista wararka, iyo sawirada.
Qod: 5aad: Qarsoodiga waa inloo adkeeyo sidii mabda’ ah.
Qod: 6aad: Dhammaan dadka u shaqeeya Saxaafadda waa in ay ilaaliyaan sirta Saxaafadda ee xirfadyahanimada, isla markaana ay si buuxda u isticmaalaan in xaq ay u leeyihiin in ay diidaan in ay bixiyaan calaamado ama caddaymo oo aanay daboolka ka qaadin magacyada dadka wararka siiyay haddii aanay iyagu raali ka ahayn.
Qod: 7aad: Waa in aan masuuliyadda saxaafadda ee ku waajahan dan bulshada caam ah lagu qaldin faafinta saxa ah, oo aanay jiidan dano gaar ahaaneed io hawlo ganacci oo ay leedahay cid kaleoo saddexaad.
Fidiyayaasha iyo Tifaftirayaashu waa in ay diidaan tallaabo kasta oo noocaas ah, waana in ay kala cad yihiin farqida u dhexeeya qoraalka warka loogu talo galay iyo waxyaabaha loogu talo galay ee leh sababo xayaysiis.
Qod: 8aad: Saxaafddu waa inay ixtiraamto waxyaabaha ama arrimaha khaaska u ah shakhsi ama shakhsiyaad u gaar ah, haddii arrintu aanay ahayn mid ay bulshada dani ugu jirto, hase yeeshee waa in taxadar badan loo yeesho oo aan lagu xad gudbin dad aaniyagu ku lug lahayn.
Qod: 9aad: Waxa ay meel ka dhac ku tahay oo ka soo horjeeda asluubta Saxaafadda in la faafiyo sheegashooyin iyo andacoodyo aan sal lahayn, gaar ahaan kuwa wax loogu dhimayo qof sharaftiisa iyo haybadiisa.
Qod: 10: Hadalo la daabaco iyo sawiro oo ay suurtagal tahay in ay wax u dhimayaan mooraalka iyo niyadda ama dareenka diimeed ee koox bulshada ka mid ah, qaab ha lagu soo bandhigee waa ka xaaraan anshaxa iyo asluubta Saxaafadda.
Qod: 11aad: Waa in ay Saxaafadu ka fogaato in ay soo bandhigto sawirada xaasaasiga ah ee horseedi kara rabshado io wax aan fiicnayn, sidoo kael waa in saxaafadu tixgelisaa ilaalinta iyo daryeelka da’yarta marka xaaladahooda la faafinayo.
Qod: 12aad: Waa in aanay jirin kala sarayn iyo kala soocid lid ku ah qofka midabkiisa, qoladiisa, diintiisa iyo halka uu Mujtamaca kaga jiro.
Qod: 13aad: Warbixinada ku saabsan kiisas ama badhitaano socda oo aan weli dhan loo ridin waa in laga ilaaliyo in si suun loola jeclaado ama loola necbaado. Sababtaas darteed, ka hor inta lagu jiraba hawlo sharciyeed, waa in laga fogaadaa dhammaan faalooyinka, sawirada, iyo ciwaanada labada dhinac ee la jir ah ama meel iska jeclaysi ama meel iska necbaysiga ah. qofka dembiga lagu eedaynayo laguma magacaabi karo dambiile ilaa ay Maxkamadu ugu dambaynta xukunto in uu dambiile yahay.
Qod: 14aad: Waxa loo arkaa inay wartebin cadaalad ah, marka golaha Saxaafadda ee Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland ay daabacaan cannaanta dadweynuhu u qabaan Saxaafadda, weliba gaar ahaan lagu soo dabaco Wargeyskii,. Laga sii daayo Idaacadii ama Telefiishankii baahiyay.
Qod: 15aad: Waxa aan marnaba la aqbali Karin in la ogolaado in la qaato tixgelino gaar ah noocay doonaanba ha haadaadne, kuwaas oo ay suurtogal tahay in wax u dhimmaan madax banaanidooda iyo xorriyada go’aan qaadashada ee fidiyayaasha, tifaftirayaasha, taas oo meel ka dhac ku ah sharafta madax banaanida iyo masuuliyadda Saxaafadda. Qof kasta oo laaluush ku qaata war faafintiisa waxa uu ku talaabsaday khaa’inimo xirafdii oo uu meel kaga dhacay.
Qod: 16aad: Waxa loo arkaa inay tahay war tebin cadaalad ah, marka golaha Saxaafadda ee Somaliland ay soo daabacaan cannaanta dadweynuhu ay u qabaan Saxaafadda, weliba gaar ahaan loogu daabaco Wargeysyada ama Majadalaha ay arrintu khusayso.