The Somaliland House of Representatives Having seen:
Article 32 of the Constitution which guarantees the freedom of expression;
Recognising: That the establishment, advancement and development of an effective and free media is necessary for the realisation of the exercise of freedom of expression and for democracy; Having considered: That the freedom of the press not only provides a venue for citizens to express their opinions but also plays a permanent role in the protection of the rights of all persons, and in the advancement of democratic traditions; whilst at the same time providing citizens opportunities to express informed views about the various significant issues and to state their opinions about how the affairs of the nation are conducted;
Has passed this Law:
This Law shall be titled: The Press Law (No: 27/2004)
Article 2: Definitions
In this Law, except where the context otherwise requires:
Press: means the creation of any work which affects the thoughts and opinions of the public at large, such as: newspapers, journals, periodicals, news agencies, radio, television, film and video, pictures, cartoons, books, music, and any other means of mass communication.Journalist: means any person who is engaged in the activities of the press.
Illegitimate Child: means a child whose father is unknown.
Rape: means the act of raping or attempting to rape.
Article 3: Freedom of the Press
a. The freedom of the press is recognized and enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Somaliland and is respected and valued in Somaliland.
b. No restraints can be imposed on the Press.
c. Any acts that can be construed as amounting to censorship are prohibited.
d. Journalists may form professional organisations which have an umbrella association.
Article 4: Objectives of the Press
a. Gathering and disseminating of news.
b. Expressing opinions in respect of various issues.
c. Imparting critical or supportive statements on various issues arising within the country or abroad. d. Taking part in the formation of public opinion whilst using various methods.
Article 5: Right to engage in and to carry on press activities
Every Somaliland citizen has a right to engage in or carry on any press activity, either solely or jointly with others.
REGISTRATION OF THE PRESS
Article 6: Registration of the Press
a. Any person wishing to establish a press undertaking shall register himself at the Office of the Attorney General of the state, after he has fulfilled the conditions set out in this Law.
b. Any (press) undertaking which has already been registered and wishes to increase its production by issuing an existing newspaper title or a new press product, shall register the new press activity in accordance with the registration procedure.
c. If any government authority or office wants to establish any kind of press activity, it shall register in accordance with this Law.
Article 7: Registration conditions
1. Any application for registration shall include the following details:
a. The name of the proprietor/s of the press activity.
b. The title of the press activity.
c. The names of the chief editors whose level of education must not be lower than secondary school level.
d. The type of the press or media that is been registered.
e. The address of the press activity and its location, such as district, neighbourhood, street, etc.
f. The name and address of the publisher of the press activity, if different from that of the proprietor.
g. Any press which produces work without registration shall have its product restrained until it is registered.
2. A press proprietor who changes his address shall inform immediately the Office of the Attorney General and the press association to which he belongs.
RIGHTS OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION
Article 8: Right of access to receive and impart information
1. A journalist shall not be imprisoned for undertaking press activities unless otherwise ordered by a competent court.
2. Unless otherwise restricted by law, any press and its agents shall have the right to seek, obtain and report news and information and acquire information from any government source of news and information.
3. Any press and its agents shall have the right to disseminate news and information and any other products of the press.
4. Journalists shall have the right to receive from the government any documents relating to their activities.
5. The disclosure and dissemination of the following matters are not allowed:
a. comments relating to proceedings which have not been concluded and are still before a court; (and)
b. unless the individual concerned consents, any personal information relating to a victim of a criminal act.
6. Disclosure of source of information: Only a court judge may question a publisher, editor or a reporter about the source from which he obtained or took information he used for his reporting, if it is necessary for the disposal of the proceedings in the court.
Article 9: The Right of Reply
1. Where any news or information which concerns an individual is reported in a press, such individual shall have the right to reply in the same press in which the report appeared.
2. The press in which such a report appeared shall give the individual concerned the opportunity to reply promptly to the report in the same manner and place in which the report was published/disseminated previously.
RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PRESS
Article 10: Complying with the Press Law
1. Every press shall have the duty to ensure that the press products it circulates are based on the truth and are balanced.
2. Every press shall have the duty to protect and secure secret information concerning armed forces bases, the dissemination of which may reveal to the enemy the military strategy and capabilities of the country.
3. Foreign journalists are prohibited from entering or photographing, without permission, the bases of and areas where the armed forces are deployed, as well as any other locations where entry is prohibited on a temporary basis for reasons relating to security.
4. The press is prohibited from publishing photographs or articles depicting the naked human body, unless such depiction is necessary for the purposes of knowledge.
5. The press is prohibited from publishing articles and commentaries, which disparage the practice of Islamic Sharia or the veneration of Islamic religion.
6. Any press which infringes the clauses of this article, shall be dealt with in accordance with the sanctions set out in the press code of conduct and in the other relevant civil laws of the country.
7. The press shall have the duty to pay licence fees.
8. The press is liable, in the same way as others, for the payment of taxes and customs charges relating to the importation of items and equipment for the press.
Article 11: Keeping records of information about journalists and authors
1. Every press shall have the duty to keep a record of the name and address of the author, journalist or editor of every press product.
2. An author or an editor of any press product who uses in any press the nickname by which a person is known and of which that person approves, shall add the full name of the person to the nickname.
Article 12: Matters to be indicated in press products
1. Any press which disseminates its products through printing, shall publish the name and address of its proprietor, the names, base, and addresses of the editor, the assistant editor and the publisher.
2. If a press product of a particular type is disseminated in another type of press, the name and address of the publisher and the name of the manager shall be indicated in a visible area.
3. If any press reproduces any news or information, which was originally issued by a news agency or was reported by another press, or was obtained from a specific source, it shall attribute it to the proprietor who originated it.
Article 13: Seeking confirmation
a) The press has the duty to be extremely careful of producing untruthful and erroneous written reports.
b) If, at any time, it is confirmed that any disseminated information was false or erroneous or was baseless reporting, it is the duty of the press concerned to correct it immediately in a prominent place.
c) It shall be the duty of any press to report truthfully and impartially the details and rulings issued in respect of any adjudication to which it is a concerned party.
Article 14: Comment and news
Without prejudice to the freedom of the press, it shall be the duty of the press to separate comments from news.
Article 15: Privacy
Trespassing; investigating matters of a personal nature without consent and with the use of telephoto lens to take pictures, without consent, of persons in private homes, shall only be permitted if it can be proved or reasonably known that these measures are aimed at protecting the public interest.
Article 16: Private residence is defined as:
a) Any property occupied privately, including its garden and its surrounding buildings, but excluding neighbouring yards or open car parking area in front of it, or the partitions surrounding the property, or the roads in its vicinity used by the public.
b) Hotel guest rooms, but not all the other parts of hotels.
c) Rooms in hospitals or health centres which are used for treating or resting patients.
Article 17: Listening devices
Unless otherwise required for the protection of the public interest, journalists cannot rely on and publish material obtained through the use of secret listening devices (as used by spies) or through eavesdropping of private telephone conversation or through secret recording of private conversation.
Article 18: Special matters
The freedom of the person shall not be infringed, and this, in particular, covers investigations relating to hospital patients and persons in custody who are appearing at courts.
Article 19: Proper conduct of the press
The media has a proper standard of conduct and its reporting shall be correct and balanced.
Article 20: Pretence
Journalists shall not obtain or seek news or take pictures whilst using false or erroneous names.
Article 21: Methods of obtaining news
a) Journalists shall not obtain or seek news, information or pictures by means of threats or coercion.
b) Editors shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with these matters.
Article 22: Intrusion into bereavement and grief
The press shall conduct in a respectful manner its news-gathering in situations involving bereavement and grief.
Article 23: Interviewing and taking pictures of children
Journalists shall not, in general, hold interviews or take pictures of children under 15 years of age so as to discuss with them matters concerning the welfare of these or other children without the presence or consent of their parents or without the presence of an adult who is responsible for these children as set out in international laws relating to the rights of children.
Article 24: Children and allegations of rape
a) Notwithstanding the fact that it is not unlawful, the press must not reveal the identity of children, aged less than 15 years, who have been involved in rape allegations as victims, witnesses or accused persons.
b) In any press report relating to the crime of rape committed against a children:
· accused persons who are adults shall be named;
· the criminal act shall be referred to as “a serious criminal act which has been committed against a young child” or in another appropriate similar fashion;
· the child who was the victim of the crime shall not be named, nor photographed; (and)
· care shall be taken not to mention in the news anything that can point to the child, if there is any familial relationship between the child victim and the accused.
Article 25: Rape victims and illegitimate children
The press shall not identify rape victims or pregnancy outside marriage and shall avoid disseminating any information that could compromise the anonymity of these persons unless there are clear reasons, allowed under the law, which justify the identification of the victims.
Article 26: Discrimination
The press shall avoid any demeaning or derogatory remarks relating to a person’s colour, nationality, level of knowledge, mental or physical health, or disability.
Article 27: Responsibility for standard of conduct
Editors are responsible for the conduct of their journalists, and shall ensure that the reports submitted by persons who are not their employees are done in accordance with the standards of conduct of the press.
Article 28: Importation of foreign press
The foreign press and its agents may operate in the Republic of Somaliland, and their rights and duties are the same as the indigenous press and shall be governed by this Law.
Article 29: The transitional period
The requirement of registration of the press set out in Article 6 shall not affect the press which has already been registered.
Article 30: The duty to co-operate with the press
1) The officers of the government shall co-operate with and assist the press so as to advance the principle of the right of public to receive information.
2) The government shall encourage the press and shall, as far as possible, assist it.
Article 31: Repeal
Any law, decree, circular, or order which is in conflict with this Law shall become null and void when this Law comes into force.
Article 32: Implementation of this Law
This Law shall come into force on the date when it signed by the President of the Republic of Somaliland.