Local journalists gather outside parliament after they were denied access on Saturday 19 October, 2019. | Photo/Courtesy/Private.
Local journalists gather outside parliament after they were denied access on Saturday 19 October, 2019. | Photo/Courtesy/Private.

MOGADISHU, Somalia 05 June 2020 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) calls for the Somali Federal Parliament to reverse its decision to ban journalists from independent media from covering the Joint Session of the Federal Parliament scheduled on Saturday 6 June, 2020.

Journalists covering the Parliament told SJS on Friday that they would not be allowed to cover the Saturday’s Joint Session under the pretext of Covid-19. Also media officials of the Parliament told SJS, that following orders from parliament authorities they conveyed the decision to the independent media and journalists that bars independent media coverage, despite permitting only the state-owned media.

“We condemn the decision to suspend independent media coverage during Saturday’s Joint Session of both Houses of the Parliament. We call for the Parliament officials to uphold Article 32 of the country’s Constitution which protects the right to access to information held by the State and subsequently reverse their decision unconditionally,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the secretary general of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said “Journalists should be allowed to cover the Parliament without any obstacles.”

According to officials who spoke to SJS, the Saturday’s Joint Session will discuss on plans for conducting 2020/2021 elections within the constitutional timeframe and therefore it is expected Somali president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo to address the opening of the 7th Session of both Houses of the Parliament.

SJS vehemently opposes any restrictions against the independent media and journalists covering the Somali Parliament. The Parliament is the core branch, which oversights the country’s democratic institutions, and only through the independent media will the public know about what legislations are being processed especially in this critical time ahead of the general elections.

“Somalia’s whole democratic process will be undermined if journalists and independent media houses are not allowed to cover all proceedings of the important political events including the parliamentary debates on election plans and to properly scrutinize the elected representatives,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) adds.

In October last year, the Lower House of the Somali Federal Parliament barred independent media from covering their sessions on what was described as lack of adequate space for the journalists inside the Parliament.  The decision was, however revoked after SJS and local media houses protested.