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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Press release to welcome developments in Somalia

The Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Me Reine Alapini-Gansou and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression Adv. Faith Pansy Tlakula welcome the decision of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia to lift the ban imposed on three Mogadishu radio stations just days after they were shut down by an order of the Somali Information Ministry.

The Special Rapporteurs received information that on 6 June 2007 the Minister of Information Madobe Nunow Mohammed signed a decree ordering Shabelle Media Network, Radio Voice of Holy Quran and Horn Afrik Radio to close down operations and stop broadcasting. According to sources it is alleged that the three radio stations were closed after the Information Ministry accused the radio stations of ‘creating insecurity, supporting terrorism, violating freedom of expression, misleading the public and becoming anti - government’.

It is believed that following negotiations between media managers and the Ministry of Information along with appeals and mounting pressures from the National Union of Somali Journalists, National Media Council and International Community, the Minister of Information decided on 10 June 2007 that the three radio stations should resume operations.

The Special Rapporteurs welcomes this step taken by the TFG to gaurantee freedom of expression and calls on the TFG to desist from acts intended to compromise the legitimate work of the media and human rights defenders.

The Special Rapporteurs would like to take this opportunity to remind the government of its responsibility and encourage it to take all necessary measures to comply with its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Grand Bay and Kigali declarations, the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa, other international human rights instruments and international legislation on media freedom ratified by Somalia.