- The Islamic Courts Union (ICU) of Somalia has been urged to respect and protect press freedom in the country. This appeal came following the movement's presentation of its information policy during a meeting with the local media this weekend in the Somalia capital Mogadishu.
During the said meeting, the movement unveiled its thirteen-point policy whose content restricts the media from disseminating anything that can create confrontation between the people and the Islamist movement. The new policy bars journalists from attending the meetings of the movement without the formal permission of the movement as well as forces journalists to reveal the sources.
Media rights groups blamed the movement for its attempts to stifle the press. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) director of Africa, Gabriel Baglo described the development as "unhealthy and troubling" because it shows the Islamist movement's "efforts to control the media".
The IFJ director however welcomed the movement's readiness to open discussions with the media but he asked them to protect press freedom in the country at all cost.
The regional press watchdog also recommended the creation of a media commission with representatives of the local media and press freedom organisations in Somalia. "This commission will work on a media code of conduct that will guarantee press freedom and ethics," Mr Baglo suggested, adding that it could also identify local trainers and organise training sessions to reinforce the capacities of Somali journalists and media workers.
"We strongly believe that if the Islamic Courts work hand in hand with the Somali journalists and media organisations, it will create a conducive environment for the peace process in the country," said Mr Baglo.
The Somali Islamists on several occasions have attacked the press in the parts of the country they control. Several media outlets have been temporarily closed for not obeying to orders issued by the new rulers, including orders to ban music and criticism of the Islamist movement.
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