From Cape Town to Lilongwe, four photographers on routine news assignments in major southern Africa cities were assaulted by security officials in the past two weeks. The details differ, but the heavy-handed actions in each case reflect a belief among those responsible for security that they are above the law and not publicly accountable. These recent attacks in southern Africa also highlight a wider phenomenon: Every day, somewhere in the world, news photographers are subjected to physical abuse by security and public officials who wish to suppress or control the powerful message delivered by images.
After high school, Bhekitemba Makhubu's father wanted him to study for a law degree. He refused, insisting on following in his father's footsteps as a journalist. Now, aged 43, he doesn't regret his choice, but besides his job as editor of the privately owned monthly magazine, The Nation, he is also studying for a law degree. On April 17, the Swaziland high court sentenced Bheki Makhubu, to two years imprisonment or a fine of US$20,000 for comments published in The Nation about the head of the country's supreme court. On a recent visit to Cape Town he spoke to CPJ about Swaziland's media environment, what motivates him, and the upcoming election. The interview has been edited for length.
New York, May 30, 2012--Ethiopian authorities have detained since Friday a reporter who sought to interview people evicted from their homes in a region where the government is building a contentious hydro-electric dam on the Blue Nile, according to a news report and the reporter's editor. The Committee to Protect Journalists said today that the case highlights authorities' disregard for the rule of law and its systematic efforts to suppress news critical of government officials.
Nairobi, May 30, 2013--Authorities in the Jubbaland region of Somalia must apprehend the gunmen who attacked freelance journalist Abdulkadir Abdirisak in the southern port town of Kismayo on Wednesday evening, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Nairobi, May 29, 2013--Ugandan police on Tuesday assaulted and detained several journalists who were among a crowd of demonstrators protesting the government's closure of four independent news outlets, according to news reports and local journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists said today that the police actions only highlight the government's continuing effort to suppress information concerning a supposed assassination plot.
"Having silenced news outlets for coverage of a critical public issue, Ugandan authorities are now trying to suppress protesters who want to call attention to the censorship," said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. "The indefinite closure of these media outlets serves as a daily reminder that the government wants to deny its citizens important sources of news and information."
The Pan African Parliament's (PAP) launch of a media freedom campaign through a "Dialogue on Media Freedom in Africa" in mid-May marks an important and welcome starting point. For too long, media freedom has been divorced from the debate around development and democratization when it has an integral role to play in promoting transparency, underpinning good governance, and enabling citizens to make informed decisions.
One day, every journalism school in the United States and beyond will offer a full three-credit, 15-week course in digital safety, along with more advanced classes. But that day has not yet come. Only a year ago, Alysia Santo reported in the Columbia Journalism Review that no American journalism school offered formal digital safety training. A number of groups, including CPJ, have tried to fill the void with digital security guides. This week, the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University added to the resource stockpile with the publication of a guide that I've written, Digital Security Basics for Journalists.
Abuja, Nigeria, May 23, 2013--Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo should identify the motive behind the murder of a radio presenter who was found on Friday after being missing for 12 days, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
With more than a billion users, Facebook is not only the biggest global social network but also an increasingly important forum for journalists. In some repressive countries it has even served as a publishing platform for journalists whose newspapers or news websites have been closed down. That is why journalists and bloggers should note today's news that after a year of standing on the threshold, Facebook has decided to step inside the Global Network Initiative tent.
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