Somaliland Journalist Association (SOLJA) is engaging constant and restless advocacies and has been working hard on the improvement of media legal and regulatory framework.
Although there is a high degree of freedom of expression in Somaliland, there have been numerous attempts of suppression of private media and its operations by Somaliland authorities
The journalists are arbitrarily detained under anachronistic detention laws, or by constitutionally questionable security committees who have the power to imprison people without taking them to court. The reasons for arrest are usually complaints that the journalists have not worked in professional manners. Sometimes there are ethical issues with the coverage; at other times it seems that the arrests are linked to sensitive topics being covering, including the involvement of high level political figures in corruption cases.
Another problem is related to the judicial system functions, which operate so poorly and erratically that it protects neither journalists accused by the authorities of alleged transgressions, nor members of the public (or government) from defamatory stories carried by the media.
When complaints of journalists and media lead to arrest and prosecution it is a criminalisation of the journalistic profession and the application criminal law and the penal code instead of the applying the press law.
The implementation of the current existing press law which will the benefit of all, and not only limited to the journalists and the government as well; but to the larger public. Hence, efforts will be put the judicial system for initiation of the implementation and application of the law as long as they have the power to apply this 27/2004 in media cases that frequently occur in Somaliland.
However, it is important to keep in mind that the law is not complete for which reason SOLJA will also prepare for a legal reform. SOLJA has already carried out a work with key stakeholders resulting in the development of an advocacy strategy
Since it is futile to start an advocacy work for media reform a few months before the general and presidential elections, focus will be on assessing the current legislation and preparing for a campaign for its reform. This will include stakeholder analysis from further regions of Somaliland including Marodijeex, Sahil, sool, Sanaag, Awdal, Gabiley, and Togdheer.
All stakeholders were identified the gabs appearing on the press law which they conducted successfully legal assessment of the press law; and contributed objectively the need to amend the press law, and also they exposed more effective inclusive and participatory governance, which they felt that they are consulted; during the workshops conducted in the regions was mainly attended Judicial sectors including courts from Regional, district, appeal and attorney general representatives and also journalist who worked at the regions. For the workshops Governors, Mayors and chief justice for the regions were attended and they all declared their commitment to support media to the maximum possible.
The activities are based on the assumption that all cases of journalist/media house victims in court process of investigating, and trials must be fair and according to established rules.
The safeguarding of fair trial rights for all victim persons, the access for justice for and respect of human rights must be based principle of justice system. Fair treatment rests on how the rules are interpreted and applied by police, prosecutors, judges and defense lawyers.
SOLJA in collaboration with IMS- International Media Support is implemented a project titled “Enhance Media freedom and Legal safety for journalists in Somaliland).”Enhance media freedom and legal safety for journalists through the establishment of the legal aid department and promoting the implementation on current press law in Somaliland.