The Republic of Somaliland Minister for the Presidency, H.E. Mohamoud Hashi Abdi, for the first time in the history of the fledgeling Republic, brought the Somaliland Journalists Association (SOLJA), all regional governors of Somaliland, law enforcement commands and the highest members of the judiciary, led by the Chief Justice, together in an unprecedented move to reduce caustic frictions among the concerned relating to what the independent press terms as ‘arbitrary arrests’ against practising journalists.
Although SOLJA was the one that asked the Minister to call the different stakeholders of the issue to a meeting, the media stayed outside the meeting room to give a leeway to a satisfactory outcome of the talks.
At the end of the meeting His Excellency the Minister spoke to the press.
“The media has often complained of unfair persecution, arbitrary arrests and harsh treatment in the hands of law enforcement officers and the judiciary – right or wrong. On the other hand, the government led by his excellency the President of the Republic, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud “Siilaanyo” has always maintained it fair dealing to the media. Two opposing views that has often resulted in a tug of war for public opinion/support,” he said. “That issue has been explored in length, today, and we have, ‘am glad to report, candidly ways to cement relations based on national interest together”.
The Minister conceded that some of the grievances of the media practitioners could have been genuine but, on the other side of the scale, were the excesses, too.
“The journalist has an inalienable, constitutional right to be protected by the law. So are all citizens. Once the journalists understand that, there is no doubt that mutual respect will set in,” Minister Hashi said.
On his part, the Chairman of SOLJA, Mohamoud Abdi Jama “Xuuto”, showed his delight that a meeting that his organization wished to happen has at long last materialized and on such a high note.
“I am delighted that the government has solemnly undertaken to honor the profession as it should be and to minimize complaints of strong-muscling on the part of the government, including gubernatorial administrations and the judiciary, against the media. Likewise, it is absolutely necessary that the independent media heed what has been raised against it by way of ruthless, unscrupulous coverages that does not only unfairly attack the government but, also, defame people without due cause,” he said.
Present at the occasion, besides the Presidency DG and Spokesperson, were the Chief Justice, the Attorney General, the Police Chief Commander, Justice Minister, Assistant Minister for Information and Somaliland Non State Actors Forum Chairman.