STATEMENT FROM THE OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER
Prime Minister pledges wide consultation over telecommunications and media law and commits to a free press
His Excellency Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon today said the government would be establishing the legal framework for a free press and properly regulated telecommunications sector only after consulting widely to bring in its Telecommunications and Media Law.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day consultation on Telecoms and Media Law in Mogadishu, the Prime Minister began by commending the telecommunications and media companies for starting their businesses and continuing to operate during the exceptionally difficult circumstances brought on during the long civil war.
Now that peace was returning, the Prime Minister called on them to contribute to rebuilding the country. The new telecommunications legislation would bring fresh obligations upon the telecoms companies, especially the legal duty to pay taxes for the first time in more than 20 years.
“This will generate revenue for the government and with those funds we will be better able to provide necessary social services. We will be more free to choose our own spending priorities.”
The law would be applied equally on all companies and the Prime Minister said he expected them to respect that law and its obligations. The legislation was being properly discussed with all stakeholders, he said, and the government was listening carefully to all contributions.
“The government is determined that the telecommunications and media law should be established only after wide consultation with - and input from - all interested parties, including the telecommunications companies and all media outlets as well as other relevant sectors.”
Article 19, the international campaigning organisation for press freedom, has contributed to the debate over the proposed legislation with a report offering a number of key recommendations. Other international specialists have also been consulted during the process. The Prime Minister said the government was determined to establish a free press in Somalia, which is enshrined in the new constitution.
“My government is very much committed to seeing a free media. The media also has its social responsibilities. Anyone who harms a journalist harms our society. Modern society cannot live without a free press.”
His Excellency Abdullahi Elmoge Hersi, Minister of Information, Posts, Telecoms and Transport called on the mobile phone operators to provide connection between the networks. At present a mobile phone user using the main service cannot call another user on the rival network.
“We have recently rejoined the International Telecommunication Union for the first time since the civil war,” the minister said. “This brings with it certain obligations – such as providing interconnectivity between the mobile phone networks. We don’t have to force anyone to have two or three phones.”
Prime Minister’s Media Office
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