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Blessing Bayo Ohu and four of her children. (Vanguard)
The killers of Nigerian Editor Bayo Ohu are still a mystery, three weeks after his murder. Now the family of the former Guardian newspaper journalist lives in fear. Ohu was shot dead early on Sunday morning, September 20, by a gang of five armed men and a woman in his apartment in Egbeda, a Lagos suburb in Nigeria. His killers made away with his laptop and cell phone, raising speculation that he was killed for his work as a journalist. Nigerian Police Commissioner Marvel Akpoyido told CPJ that investigations are ongoing.

Reporter Jolly Kamuntu is more than eight months pregnant, but she joined hundreds of Congolese journalists today in nationwide protest marches against insecurity and threats. Kamuntu, who is based in Bukavu, where three reporters have been murdered since 2007, was cited recently in an anonymous text message threatening to kill her and two other local journalists, Delphie Namuto and Caddy Adzuba, if they did not stop “interfering in what does not concern them.” That did not stop her from undertaking a recent reporting trip to Goma, north of Bukavu, where she interviewed refugees displaced by the conflict afflicting the minerals-rich region. “I’m still here. God is keeping me,” she told me.

Mourners at Bayo Ohu's funeral. (The Vanguard)

More than two weeks have passed since the cold-blooded killing of Bayo Ohu, assistant news editor and political reporter for the Lagos, Nigeria-based The Guardian. The 45-year-old, soft-spoken workaholic opened the door to his home early on Sunday, September 20, as he prepared for church. According to eyewitnesses and local reports, five gunmen and one female ringleader shot Ohu repeatedly in his doorway while his children hid inside. One of his children told The Guardian that from her hiding place she heard one of the men shouting in Yoruba, “Olori Buruki e ti ku”—“The fool is dead.” Curiously, the killers took only Ohu’s laptop and cell phones.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I left Gabon, and a month since elections to pick a successor to Omar Bongo, who ruled Africa’s fourth-largest oil producer for 41 years. There are unresolved questions about the ballot count and the number of people killed in post-election violence. 

Deputy Information Minister Abdishakur Adan explains the VOA ban in Bossasso. (Horseed)

New York, October 2, 2009—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the suspension on Thursday of three Voice of America (VOA) reporters in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in northeastern Somalia. Puntland’s Deputy Minister of Information Abdishakur Mire Adan issued a letter suspending all three VOA correspondents and any other VOA journalist from reporting in the region. The suspended VOA correspondents included Nuh Muse in Garowe, Mohamed Yasin Isak in Galkayo, and Abdulkadir Mohamed in Bossasso. 

Somali pirates in Hobyo, north of Mogadishu. (EPA)Shadows of emerging skyscrapers in a neighborhood in Nairobi come alive as the sun glides down the western horizon. I am walking down one of the deserted streets in the city’s Eastleigh shantytown. Lately, Eastleigh has become a contradiction of sorts. While the roads remain as torn as ever and clean drinking water and other social amenities remain out of reach, there is a new aura of affluence among the numerous huge buildings that seem to be coming up overnight.

New York, September 24, 2009—A newspaper editor in police custody in Niger since Sunday was charged with criminal libel on Wednesday in connection with a story accusing a top official of involvement in a corruption scandal, according to local journalists and news reports. 

September 23, 2009

His Excellency Abdoulaye Wade
President of the Republic of Senegal
c/o Permanent Mission of Senegal to the United Nations
238 E. 68th St.
New York, NY 10021

Via facsimile: (212) 517-3032

Dear Mr. President,

The Committee to Protect Journalists is heartened by your recent directive to the prime minister to renew consultations with the press on the decriminalization of press offenses in Senegal. Yet your directive came on the same day a judge in the central town of Kaolack imprisoned two journalists who reported allegations of local government corruption in the distribution of seeds—a reminder of the urgent need for press law reform.

Abdoulaye Wade (AFP)

According to an official statement reported by the state-run Senegalese Press Agency, you asked the prime minister on Friday to start talks with the press. Also on Friday, Judge Mamadou Kane of the regional tribunal of Kaolack jailed reporters Papa Samba Sène of private daily L’As and Abdou Dia of Radio Futurs Médias, according to local news reports. Kane charged the journalists with defamation, publishing false news, and criminal conspiracy under Senegal’s penal code based on a complaint by the regional governor, according to local journalists.

We urge you now not only to decriminalize press offenses, but also to address a culture of impunity for those who attack journalists and to review the police’s practice of interrogating journalists who criticize your administration.

In prepared remarks to your delegation in Washington last week, which included the foreign minister and the Senegalese ambassador, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton encouraged the government to “fight corruption,” and “make every aspect of government policy and operation more transparent and accountable.” However, since 2004, when you publicly called for a reform of Senegal’s 1977 Penal Code, at least 12 journalists have been sentenced to prison on libel charges, while charges against four others were dropped, according to CPJ research. In recent years, government prosecutors have charged journalists with various penal code statutes, including threatening law and order” (Article 80), offending the head of state (Article 254), and publishing “false news” (Article 255). The administration has resisted the reform of press offenses, despite a comprehensive proposal submitted in December 2004 by civil society members and backed by UNESCO, according to our research.

Mr. President, we also ask you to review long-standing censorship and intimidation practices, such as interrogating journalists and blocking the distribution of information or views critical of your administration. This year for instance, a judge blocked the distribution of the June edition of the monthly newsmagazine L’Essentiel, ruling that its headlines, which criticized your government’s performance, risked “gravely disturbing public order,” according to news reports. On August 28, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Senegalese police interrogated three journalists of daily Le Quotidien for several hours, pressing them to reveal sources and retract stories critical of the administration, according to the same sources. 

Finally, we urge you to use your influence to address a pattern of impunity for those involved in harassing and attacking journalists for their coverage. For example, none of the policemen involved in the June 2008 beating of sports journalists Babacar Kambel Dieng and reporter Kara Thioune have been charged, according to local journalists. In fact, CPJ investigations found that members of your administration, supporters of your party, security forces, and followers of the politically influential Mourides Muslim brotherhood involved in incidents of physical and verbal abuse of journalists have seldom been publicly brought to account or prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

We would like to encourage you to continue to take positive steps toward restoring your country's reputation as a haven of press freedom. Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Joel Simon
Executive Director

Aaron Berhane (Axel Öberg-Dagens Nyhete)It feels like it happened just yesterday. It was 7 a.m. on an average day in September in Asmara, Eritrea. My brain was still reshuffling the information I had gathered about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center a week earlier. I was writing an article on it for the next issue of Setit, the twice-weekly newspaper of which I was editor-in-chief.


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Attacks on the Press 2012

217 Journalists in exile, 2007-12

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