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Somali Media Association (SOMA) and the Ministry of information, culture and tourism in partnership with International Media Support (IMS) and Fojo institute organized a high-level event to commemorate “The World Press Freedom Day”.

The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day is entitled “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law”.

High-level officials from the Ministry of information, culture and tourism, media house owners, directors, civil society organizations and journalists attended the event.

Mr. Ahmed Isse Gutale, speaking on behalf of the chairman of SOMA took the opening remarks and welcomed all the guests. He thanked all the attendees as well as congratulated them for commemorating this important day.

He addressed the process to achieve free and responsible media in Somalia and stated that over the years, Somali media has been gradually developing as well as federal government laws on media.

He further said that if Somali media were to act morally and responsibly in broadcasting, then there will be no need to have rules and regulations to govern the media.

SOSCENSA chairman, Dini Mohamed Dini, lectured the congregation on the importance of the media as an outstanding arm that has a role in creating and shaping of public opinion and strengthening of society, Promoting democracy, acting as watchdog to protect public interest against malpractice, create public awareness and responsibility.

Mr. Dini expressed concern over incompetence of some journalists and their unawareness of their roles in promoting the values of society. He emphasized the need for accurate reporting free from any influence.

“There are two things essential to every journalist with each one having importance over the other. Law and knowledge. The knowledge enables the journalist to prepare professional report whereas the law creates responsibility. When you prepare the report, first present it to yourself, if well broadcast it and if not, do not broadcast it.” Said Dini.

Dini expressed concern about lack of well experienced journalists as the country is just recovering from a post conflict forcing the profession to become younger, less experienced and ultimately less professional.

On the other part, Dunia Mohamed Ali, Program officer from IIDA described journalists as teachers, who must exemplify ethical and moral behavior because they are the educators and informers of the society.

“The media should create programs that are educative such as Farming and Fishing that will benefit the society.” Dunia said

Dunia also called on  government to to guard media because, its through it that they able to access and inform the society.

Abdinor Mohamed Ahmed, communications Director of the office of the president on his part stated that they are in the process of facilitating independent media access to Villa Somalia. He said the government is yet, to create a body that will connect the government and the independent media for efficient coverage of news.

Somalia Deputy Attorney General Muse Maalim Mohamed promised that they will defend the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of media, but requested the media to also be responsible and ethical.

Deputy Minister of information and public affairs who is also the acting minister, Mr Abdirahman Idan, said that the Somali government is committed to promoting Freedom of Expression that is enshrined by article 18 of the Somali constitution. The acting minister urged the media to take active role in the efforts to respond to the floods victims in the areas of Shabelle and Jubba River.

During the event, two panel discussions were held; a panel to discuss on the “Effectiveness of the Independent Media in Countries Recovering from Post-conflict and the Restrictions on Broadcasting” and another entitled, “Social Media Influence on Accuracy and Responsibility of the Media”.

The two panels exchanged views on freedom, and importance of effective independent media and restrictions on broadcasting.

Ahmed Abdi Aynab, a journalist and a lecture said press freedom is “media that is free from any influence; influence on wealth, ideology, military or/and ethnicity/tribalism.

He added that the importance of media is to promote society, build personality, inform the society and provide critical information to government which will promote good governance and democracy.

He also called upon Journalist to observe ethics and morality, and act as role models to the younger generation.

On May 3, 1993, The United Nations General Assembly officiated World Press Freedom Day  to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and to defend media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.This day was  proclaimed by the UN General Assembly  following a Recommendation adopted at the twenty-sixth session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. This in turn was a response to a call by African journalists who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media pluralism and independence.