Media legislation

Somalia has had no effective media regulation since 1991, until a law was brought in 2012, which sparked huge protests from journalists. The 2012 provisional federal constitution allows for freedoms of speech and of the press. But, in reality the violence in the country restricts the capacity of the Somali government to enforce its own constitution.

The media have not been governed by a set of laws or regulations since 1991. Parliament signed off new media legislation, which came under heavy criticism because journalists felt it curtailed freedom of the press. The issue is that the law is not implemented and used. More often than not the penal code is used to charge journalists. The law itself is also not adequate.

In Somaliland the 2004 Press Law is the main regulation that governs the press. This law, which is based on an Ethiopian law, was proposed by the Somaliland government back in 1999, but not passed into law until 2004. A Media Law was not yet implemented. Currently SOLJA, in cooperation with the Ministry of Information and civil society organisations, is working to amend this law, which is expected to be passed by the end of 2018).

Although the Somaliland constitution allows freedom of expression in its widest form, there are no private radio stations allowed by the government of Somaliland and this has been so for the last 25 years. The media community has been lobbying the government to lift this ban, however this had no result yet. It is expected that this will remain in force in the foreseeable future. According to the government, the ban was implemented to avoid clan-based conflict.

On top of the media law approved by the federal parliament, the federal government also developed a federal media strategy in 2017, which includes the transformation of the government-owned media outlets to a public broadcasting system. However this still needs to be implemented and is not active yet.