Monday marked the start of the highly unusual hearing into allegations of the Universal TV ban. Puntland’s state represented by state’s Deputy Attorney General Mohamed Hareed in filing a State lawsuit against Universal TV at the first hearing in Garowe district Court, whereas the defendant in this case UNIVTV was represented by Sh. Sacid with the presence of the MAP’s secretariat led by its chair Faisal Khalif Barre.
The Government’s indictment against the UNIVTV displayed at the court’s floor in this first hearing session was immature from a legal standpoint the fact that session’s Judge Abdi Nur Aw Jama Aw Hussein of the Garowe District court wasn’t convinced by the Sate’s allegations evidence presented by the state represented by the Puntland’s Deputy Attorney General, prior to closing the session the Judge demanded legitimate evidence of UNIVTV ban from the government’s representative. No rulings were reached for yesterday’s court session; next hearing is scheduled for the 14 March 2017.
While confronting on the illegal procedures used that ordered the ban of the UNIVTV, defendant’s lawyer sh. Sacid in his statement at the court floor said, quote ‘’At first It is clear the government didn’t go through the legal procedures in banning an independent media outlet and has no right to warrant such orders without going through courts of law, He nodded ‘’We cannot proceed while having the illegal ban still active – UNIVTV must be allowed back to air before proceeding with the case your honor Abdi aw Noor referring to the judge” Said Sh. Sacid!
‘’We position ourselves with the Defendant lawyer’s statement at the court floor this morning in the first hearing demanding that the case cannot proceed for further hearing unless the ban is reversed back and that UNIVTV is allowable to operate in Puntland! Said MAP chair at a later press statement.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental right to all Puntland society as enshrined in the State and Somali Constitution of Puntland and that of Somalia, regional and international Instruments to which Somalia is a party of. The media is a public good which serves all kinds of people both in and outside of government.
“These charges are clearly inappropriate, and we are concerned that they could send a chilling message to the Puntland media fraternity in performing their duties as watchdogs’’, “The ban and charges filed against UNIVTV are clearly designed to chill the freedom of the media, the charges must be dropped said Faisal Khalif, MAP chair who was present at the hearing while commenting in debriefing meeting at the MAP HQs in Garowe.
Similar to this case, in August 2015, Nugal Court dismissed a court case filed by Ministry of information against radio Sahan after finding no evidence on accusation filed.
The Somali media remains challenged by censorship, intimidation, harassment, unlawful detention, imprisonment and mysterious assassinations bearing the hallmarks of extremism and political instigation.