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Press Freedom News and Views

Africa

Blog   |   Burundi, Gambia, Somalia, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe

A bid to rid Africa of criminal defamation, sedition laws

The African Union's special rapporteur on freedom of expression and access to information, Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, has launched an auspicious initiative in East Africa to counter criminal defamation and sedition laws. Since independence, authorities and business interests in the East and Horn region have used criminal laws on sedition, libel, and insult--often relics of former, colonial administrations--to silence their critics in the press. "Criminal defamation laws are nearly always used to punish legitimate criticism of powerful people, rather than protect the right to a reputation," Tlakula said in a statement.

July 12, 2013 3:48 PM ET

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Blog   |   Ethiopia, Kenya

Exiled journalists in risky places need helping hand

The dangerous neighborhood of Eastleigh is home to some exiled journalists. (AP)

It was well past mid-day in Eastleigh, a shanty district on the east side of Nairobi, Kenya. The billows of dust rising from the rock-scarred road showed a government that had long lost interest in the neighborhood. A young man, struggling with horribly dry conditions, was fighting with his patrons. "Welahi, today's khat is so small. I need more," a Somali customer was complaining. "Pole, hakuna unvua" ("Sorry, no rain"). "Khat is getting expensive in these days," the young man tried to convince him in Kiswahili and English. Few knew that the young peddler was once a journalist in Ethiopia. They cared neither about his profession nor the reasons he had fled his home country. For them, he was just a dealer of khat, the mildly addictive green leaf that is chewed in East Africa. It was as simple as that. 

Blog   |   UK

In revolt, freelancers establish Frontline Freelance Register

Finally, there is an organization for freelancers run by freelancers, and it could not come at a more opportune time. As anyone who has been one knows, being a freelance conflict reporter, in particular, can be tricky business.

Blog   |   Kenya

Kenyan journalists kicked out of Parliament media center

Journalists use the media center to file stories on parliamentary proceedings. (Alphonce Shiundu)

News coverage of the Kenyan Parliament elected in March 2013 is off to a rocky start. The press last week was kicked out of the media center in the National Assembly, and although the speaker tried to make assurances that overall access won't be affected, journalists are wary.

Blog   |   Uganda

Siege over, but damage to Ugandan press may last

Journalists for The Monitor were locked out of their newsroom for 10 days. (Daily Monitor)

Journalists are back to work at Uganda's leading privately owned daily, The Monitor, after a 10-day siege of their newsroom by police. But that does not mean it is business as usual for the nation's press. The paper's owners at the Nation Media Group evidently begged and negotiated for its reopening--signaling to other media houses that they should toe the government line or face a similar stranglehold. Although the deliberations were successful in returning the paper to the newsstands, the long-term costs may prove exorbitant.

Blog   |   Angola

Investigative journalist under threat again in Angola

The Angolan government has brought criminal charges against journalist Rafael Marques de Morais for his book, Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola, published in Portugal in 2011, that documented allegations of homicides, torture, forced displacement of civilian settlements, and intimidation of inhabitants of the diamond-mining areas of the country's Lundas region.

Blog   |   Malawi, South Africa

Photographers attacked: Two weeks in southern Africa

A security officer fires rubber bullets at Star photographer Motshwari Mofokeng. (The Star)

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.

Blog   |   Swaziland

Bheki Makhubu raises freedom flag in Swaziland

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.

May 31, 2013 10:30 AM ET

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Blog   |   Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda

Press freedom: Challenge of changing words into deeds

(Pan African Parliament)

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.

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Medill digital security guide helps fill journalism void

As the pace of technological innovation increases, several groups try to ensure journalists are offered tips on digital security. (AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)

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.

2013

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