Freedom of the Press
Freedom of the Press
Freedom of the press in Somaliland is a complex right that is yet to be enjoyed by the citizens of the nation due to intervention from the government. The laws for Freedom of the Press are expressed in the Somaliland Constitution under ‘The Rights of the Individual, Fundamental Freedoms and the Duties of the Citizen’, specifically within Article 32. With journalists facing persecution in the event of publishing work that criticises the actions of the government, it can be argued that freedom of press is limited in the state. The censorship on expressing opinions is increasing greatly in Somaliland, causing the authorities to have a firm grip over the press. A key method of establishing this, set by the government, is through refusing registration for newspapers and radio stations, therefore not being licensed to publish. An example of this was seen by Horyaal Radio which was denied registration several times due to being based outside of Somaliland. This demonstrates that by denying them a registration, the right of freedom of press is undermined.
The reason behind the lack of enjoyment for the freedom of the press encompasses the argument that Somaliland is an argumentative society. Therefore, by publishing different opinions and views, it would lead to an unstable government that can be easily overthrown. Moreover, the censorship for the freedom of the press is upheld to guarantee security for the government from potential opposition that may arise, such as the violence and hostilities that may occur. The Somaliland government uses these arguments to support their restrictions on private radios as they wish to avoid any instabilities that could be a consequence of allowing the right of freedom of press to the nation.
Somaliland Journalists Association (SOLJA) was created to control, appeal and document any crimes or right violations that were carried out against journalists and anyone claiming freedom of expression. Yet, this has not solved several cases, as seen by Mohamed Osman, the director of Horyaal, who was arrested 6 times since 23rd April 2004. Individuals who work in the media are closely monitored by the police and authorities, demonstrating that the freedom of press is not to the full.
Lastly, journalists are purposely underpaid below the minimum standard of living if they do not conform to “Qabac", a financially agreement between the authorities and media that arguably favours the government. This enables the government to remain superior as individuals are forced to comply to be able to afford their lifestyle without living under the minimum standard. Freedom of the press is severely damaged due to the government's involvement where it has been shaped to promote the interests of the authorities rather than the views of the nation.