On Sunday 02 February, NIEC met journalists, representatives from the media and unions in Mogadishu where NIEC representatives announced that they were preparing a media code of conduct containing vaguely worded provisions to be implemented during the election period. According to NIEC officials, this code will be used as a condition for journalists’ accreditation and media organizations to cover the electoral process.
While discussions and consultations on the role of journalists and media houses during the election are welcome processes, SJS strongly insists the development of codes of conduct for journalists and media houses remains a self-regulatory and should be developed by the media sector itself to ensure full ownership of its principles.
“We were notified by the NIEC’s attempts to impose restrictive and illegitimate regulation on the journalists and the media. We want to tell NIEC that any Code of Conduct should make the media responsible for its own internal matters without external interference,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said “NIEC should also accept the fact that media is a watchdog that acts as a mechanism for prevention and investigation of allegations of violations or malpractice during the election.”
“We call for NIEC to provide accreditation process that is open and non-discriminatory and include both private and public media.” Mr. Mumin adds.
Following the Sunday’s discussion with NIEC representatives in Mogadishu, Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) made the following recommendations with regard to the role of the journalists and media in the 2020/2021 election:
- preserve the journalists and media houses independence from external interference;
- allow journalists and editors to set ethical standards for their media outlets that they commit to uphold;
- allow journalists and media houses to have access to all parts of the electoral process, including preparations and events such as voter registration, polling and vote count;
- ensure journalists accreditation process be open and non-discriminatory and include both private and public media.
Media editors and journalists should:
- develop internal journalistic and editorial standards in election reporting;
- uphold independence, fair and impartial coverage that gives all sides an equal coverage;
- provide for an accountable, simple and effective mechanism for complaints and, where required, make corrections;
- encourage a peaceful electoral process which is especially important in this post-conflict context in Somalia;
Local and international stakeholders should:
- Stand with freedom of the press and pressure relevant state organs to respect journalists and media freedom;
- Provide assistance to a mechanism that supports journalists and editors to set election reporting guidelines and ethical standards for the media;
- Support establishment of Independent Media Monitoring and Refereeing Body