CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Africa

2013


Blog   |   South Sudan

Reporting on South Sudan crisis difficult, dangerous

Families displaced by fighting wait to be registered for food rations at a makeshift camp inside a United Nations facility on the outskirts of Juba on Monday. (Reuters/James Akena)

"They even started shooting through my house--I had to lie on the floor with my wife and kids," Angelo Wello, a freelance journalist for faith-based news sites and a pastor, told me. Like many residents of the capital of Juba, South Sudan, Angelo has found it incredibly hard to get accurate information and report on one of the most tragic, restive periods in South Sudan's short history. And, like other South Sudanese journalists, he has to weigh his work against safeguarding his own and his family's safety.

December 23, 2013 2:52 PM ET

Blog   |   CPJ, France, Guatemala

Defining success in the fight against impunity

For the second time this year, the U.N. Security Council took up the issue of protection of journalists. In a discussion today sponsored by the French and Guatemalan delegations, and open to NGOs, speaker after speaker and country after country hammered home the same essential facts: The vast majority of journalists murdered around the world are local reporters working in their own country, covering human rights, corruption, conflict and politics. In nine out of ten of these murders, no one is ever prosecuted.

December 13, 2013 5:24 PM ET

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Blog   |   Uganda

Uganda: Block the opposition and block the press

Police attempt to arrest a supporter of Erias Lukwago outside his home on December 2. (Monitor)

Getting rid of an influential opposition figure is a simple two-step process for Uganda's ruling party, the National Resistance Movement: Dismiss the opponent and ensure the press cannot cover it.

December 11, 2013 4:51 PM ET

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Blog   |   UK, USA

Take this survey on digital safety, then take these steps

It is an extraordinarily difficult time to be a journalist. Nearly every month, the digital security landscape shifts--new surveillance concerns are unearthed and freshly drafted laws are introduced that seek to curb freedom of expression under the guise of national security.

December 4, 2013 4:31 PM ET

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Blog   |   Kenya

Kenya's press takes to the streets against bill

A banner tied to the gates of Parliament protests a media bill under review. (CPJ/Tom Rhodes)

"Mr. President, you gagged us!" said a banner tied to the gates of Parliament today. Kenya's Editors Guild and the Kenya Correspondents' Association organized peaceful demonstrations across the country to protest a media bill currently under parliamentary review. Protests were held in every county in the country, according to William Janak, chairman of the correspondents' association, including roughly 80 to 100 protesters in the port-city of Mombasa, 100 in the central city of Kisumu, and 400 in the capital, Nairobi.

Blog   |   Philippines

After UN resolution on impunity, more work to be done

For all the people who have been working on the problem of impunity for so long, the announcement on November 26 that the Third Committee of the United Nation's General Assembly had passed a resolution on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, setting November 2 as the "International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists," was welcome news. 

Blog   |   CPJ, Philippines

Interactive Timeline: 12 months of impunity at a glance

In December 2012, the Committee to Protect Journalists and 27 partner organizations launched Speak Justice: Voices against Impunity as part of an international effort to seek justice for the hundreds of journalists who have been murdered around the world. Today, on International Day to End Impunity, we are taking a look back at what has happened over the last 12 months.

November 22, 2013 5:29 PM ET

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Blog   |   Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Sri Lanka

Journalists can help curb gender-based violence

Training journalists how to better cover gender-based violence can help challenge attitudes that foster sexual attacks. Helping journalists learn personal skills to safely navigate sexual aggression can help prevent them from becoming victims themselves.

Blog   |   Afghanistan, Angola, Burma, Cambodia, France, India, Iraq, Mali, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Syria

Training can help journalists survive captivity

Two murdered journalists for the Africa service of Radio France Internationale, Ghislaine Dupont, 51, and Claude Verlon, 58, might have had a chance. They were abducted on November 2 in Kidal in northern Mali, but the vehicle their captors were driving suddenly broke down, according to news reports.

Blog   |   Kenya

Just the fear of draconian press laws is enough

Kenyan journalists' protests in 2007 warded off a new media law. (AP)

Few in Kenya's media could comprehend how a media bill, considered the most repressive in Kenya's 50-year history, could sail so easily through Parliament last week. Fittingly, Parliament passed the Kenya Information and Communications Amendment Bill on Halloween. It is awaiting President Uhuru Kenyatta's signature following a 14- day deliberation period.

November 5, 2013 3:29 PM ET

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Blog   |   Somalia

Shabelle off air and staff evicted, fearing for safety

Radio Shabelle was forced out of these offices on Saturday. (NPR)

The young staff members of Radio Shabelle, whose offices were in the relatively safe section of Mogadishu next to the airport, are no longer feeling safe.  On Saturday, while presenters were on the air, heavily armed security forces raided the Shabelle offices and arrested the three-dozen staff members at gunpoint, according to a statement by the Shabelle Media Network.  The security forces dismantled and took all of the equipment for Radio Shabelle and Sky-FM, a sister station in the same building, as well as Shabelle TV. 

October 30, 2013 10:49 AM ET

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Blog   |   Somalia

Somalia, it's time for action

On the morning of Tuesday, October 22, 2013, Somali television journalist Mohamed Mohamud, nicknamed "Tima'ade," was seriously wounded when unknown armed men attacked him on his way home from work. He was shot more than five times. Colleagues and local residents in Wadajir district, where the attack took place, immediately rushed him to Madina Hospital in Mogadishu.

Blog   |   Kenya

Kenyan police threaten press -- Press fights back!

In this screenshot, Kenyan Police Chief David Kimaiyo holds a press conference on October 23 in which he harshly criticizes the press. (K24TV)

On Wednesday, David Kimaiyo, Kenya's inspector general of police, launched a tirade at the Kenyan press, threatening to arrest and prosecute two journalists for their coverage of the Westgate Mall rescue operation.

Blog   |   Belgium, Somalia

Duping pirates and endangering journalists

Belgium arrested Somali pirate chief Mohamed Abdi Hassan, shown in a January photo, after prosecutors lured him to Brussels on promises of shooting a documentary film about his life. (AFP/Abdi Hussein)

It could have been the script for a John Le Carré intrigue. On Saturday October 12, Belgian security agents arrested Mohamed Abdi Hassan, a kingpin of Somali piracy known as "Afweyne" (Big Mouth), and his associate Mohammed M. Aden, nicknamed Tiiceey, a former governor of Himan and Heeb province.

Blog   |   Ethiopia

Africa's journalists honor jailed editor Woubshet Taye

Woubshet Taye's wife Berhane Tesfaye and their son accepted an award on behalf of the imprisoned journalist. (CPJ/Sue Valentine)

Journalists and media owners across Africa gave Ethiopian journalist Woubshet Taye a standing ovation in Cape Town on Saturday night at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2013, but he wasn't there to see it. Instead his wife and son accepted the Free Press Award on his behalf.

Part of the citation for the award reads: "Ethiopia is a jewel in the African crown for its beauty, its people, its history and, most recently, for its astonishing growth rates. It is the judges' view that journalists like Woubshet Taye and his colleagues Reeyot Alemu and Eskinder Nega should be out of prison and working to build the prosperity and the freedom of a new Ethiopia. The judges make this award in recognition of Mr. Taye's work and in solidarity with his condition."

Blog   |   Kenya

Westgate siege shows press' lack of security training

Kenyan journalists film outside the Westgate mall in September. (AFP/Carl de Souza)

Rumor had it that thieves and police had exchanged gunfire during the robbery of a bank at the Westgate Mall. That was the word that first reached some Nairobi newsrooms that Saturday about the gunshots many Kenyans heard coming from the luxurious shopping mall.

October 9, 2013 10:41 AM ET

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Blog   |   Ethiopia

Sakharov and the fight for a free press in Ethiopia

Ethiopian journalists Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu. (Lennart Kjörling and IWMF)

In 1968, Andrei Sakharov braved censorship and personal risk in the Soviet Union to give humanity an honest and timeless declaration of conscience. That same year, Ethiopia's most prominent dissenter, Eskinder Nega, was born. In January 1981, a year into Sakharov's exile in the closed city of Gorky, Reeyot Alemu, another fierce, Ethiopian free thinker, was born.

Blog   |   Kenya

Covering Westgate

Two photographers take cover outside the Westgate Mall. (AP/Sayyid Azim)

The jumpy, cell phone clips of journalists and security officers crouching outside the upscale Westgate Shopping Mall in the capital, Nairobi, permeated the TV screens across Kenya for four days. Edgy local and foreign reporters hid behind vehicles as gunfire shots, repeated explosions and smoke emanated from a supermarket inside.

Blog   |   Somalia

Q&A: Hubaal's editor talks about press in Somaliland

Editor Hassan Hussein, left, and Director Mohamed Ahmed relaunch their publication one day after the government lifts its suspension. (Hubaal)

Hubaal, Somaliland's critical and much-beleaguered daily newspaper, is back on newsstands after a presidential pardon last week. The paper was shuttered on orders of the attorney general in June without explanation. In April, two gunmen, subsequently identified by authorities as police officers, raided the office of Hubaal and attacked its staff after a series of critical articles accusing the government of nepotism and misuse of office. Editor Hassan Hussein and Managing Director Mohamed Ahmed were both convicted on defamation charges last month and given prison terms. The two journalists were released on bail and are appealing their convictions.

Blog   |   Zambia

Zambia silences critics with lawsuits, Web blocking

President Michael Sata's mounting attacks on the press have had a chilling effect on freedom of expression in Zambia. (AFP/Simon Maina)

The charges leveled against a Zambian journalist suspected by authorities of being linked to the blocked news website Zambian Watchdog make for interesting reading.

Blog   |   CPJ, Somalia

Only due process, transparency will end Somali impunity

Last week, as Egypt plunged deeper into political violence, CPJ recorded a sad statistic: the death of the 1,000th journalist in the line of duty since we began keeping records in 1992. While that benchmark death came amid a military raid, seven out of 10 killed journalists were in fact murdered in reprisal for their work-- and the killers have evaded justice in almost all of those cases, our research shows. 

August 19, 2013 7:13 PM ET

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Blog   |   South Africa

SABC keeps lid on 'Project Spear' documentary

AFP

The South African Broadcasting Corporation is in the news for not airing a politically sensitive documentary that details allegations of apartheid-era theft of public funds. The public broadcaster, which had commissioned the film, has also refused to sell the rights back to the filmmaker and has filed a lawsuit demanding she turn over her raw footage and accusing her of breaching copyright by staging private screenings. 

August 2, 2013 2:39 PM ET

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Blog   |   Uganda

Filmmaker's arrest signals limits to Uganda coverage

Moments before his arrest, Taylor Krauss films damage to opposition leader Kizza Besigye's car by police. (Chimpreports)

Taylor Krauss, an American journalist, freelance filmmaker, and founder of the testimonial website Voices of Rwanda, traveled to Uganda roughly two weeks ago to conduct some filming in hopes of pitching footage later to various media outlets. Krauss is no stranger to the region; he has been traveling back and forth to the country for nine years. But now that he has been arrested, held for three days without charge, had his equipment confiscated, and finally forced out of the country, this probably marks his last visit. It probably also marks bad news for the press in Uganda.

Blog   |   Burkina Faso

Jailed Burkinabe journalist appeals to African Court

Lohé Issa Konaté (Lydia Ouédraogo)

Journalist Lohé Issa Konaté has been imprisoned in Burkina Faso since he was convicted in October of criminal defamation over articles in private weekly L'Ouragan alleging corruption and abuse of power at the office of the public prosecutor. In May, an appeals court rejected his appeal and upheld the 12-month sentence, according to defense counsel Halidou Ouedraogo. Now, after exhausting all domestic legal remedies, Konaté has filed a complaint with the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights in Tanzania. 

Blog   |   Zimbabwe

Q&A: Zenzele Ndebele promotes radio in Zimbabwe

Zenzele Ndebele (Liesl Frankson/Wits Vuvuzela)

With Zimbabwe elections days away, the fight over access to the airwaves has intensified. The media environment has loosened slightly compared with previous years, but most Zimbabweans still lack access to independent sources of news, including radio. One person familiar with obstacles to broadcasting is Zenzele Ndebele, editor of Radio Dialogue, a community radio station based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, founded in 2001.

Blog   |   CPJ

After Security Council, what next for journalist safety?

NBC's Richard Engel and AP's Kathleen Carroll at the U.N. Security Council. (AP/Mary Altaffer)

Speaking at a U.N. Security Council discussion about the protection of journalists, Associated Press Executive Editor and CPJ Vice Chair Kathleen Carroll remembered the 31 AP journalists who have died reporting the news and whose names grace the Wall of Honor that visitors pass as they enter the agency's New York headquarters. Most were killed covering war, from the Battle of the Little Big Horn to Vietnam to Iraq. But around the world, Carroll noted, "most journalists who die today are not caught in some wartime crossfire, they are murdered just because of what they do. And those murders are rarely ever solved; the killers rarely ever punished."

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Surveillance detection for journalists in the field

Outside the Moscow apartment building of Anna Politkovskaya on the night of her murder in 2006. A ex-police officer pleaded guilty to orchestrating extensive surveillance leading to her slaying. (AP/Dmitry Lovetsky)

Much has been made recently about the digital surveillance of journalists--and rightly so--but physical surveillance remains a key tactic of security forces, law enforcement, and private entities. These operatives are monitoring journalists, gathering intelligence on them, and potentially obstructing journalists' work or putting them at risk.

July 22, 2013 8:22 AM ET

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Blog   |   Zimbabwe

As Zimbabwe vote nears, state media drown out others

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace greet party supporters on their arrival at a campaign rally in Chitungiwiza, Zimbabwe, on Tuesday. (AP/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

When Star-FM launched on June 25, 2012, it was the first time in 30 years that Zimbabweans, who have known no other radio besides the state-controlled Radio Zimbabwe, had the chance to call in to a radio station to express their views. 

Blog   |   Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso state media journalists protest censorship

Journalists working for state media protest Tuesday in front of the Communications Ministry in Ouagadougou against authorities' meddling in their work. (AFP/Ahmed Ouoba)

In Burkina Faso, tens of journalists from state media today held a sit-in in front of the Ministry of Communications in the capital Ouagadougou to protest what they deem to be excessive government censorship of news coverage.

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.

Blog   |   Internet

Facebook joins Global Network Initiative

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.

Blog   |   South Sudan

Q&A with an editor of South Sudan's Juba Monitor

Police arbitrarily arrested Michael Koma, the managing editor of South Sudan's daily Juba Monitor, on May 2 and detained him for four days following the publication of an article critical of the deputy security minister. A veteran journalist, Koma has experienced firsthand the poor state of press freedom within Africa's newest country. CPJ spoke with him briefly this week.

Blog   |   Kenya

Kenyan press face hostile work environment, study finds

The working environment for journalists and media workers in Kenya is increasingly hostile, with at least 91 percent of journalists at local media outlets having faced security threats in the course of their work, a new study has revealed. The harassment of and attacks against journalists, with nearly 40 percent coming from politicians, indicates a need for urgent attention from both state and non-state actors if press freedom is to be guaranteed in the country.

Blog   |   Uganda

In Uganda, media muzzled over alleged Muhoozi project

Gen. David Sejusa (Facebook)

While Uganda's politicians and social media are abuzz over a sensational letter reportedly written by a top security official about a high-level assassination plot, police have dutifully harassed the mainstream press in a bid to suppress the chatter.

Blog   |   Liberia

Liberian press boycotts Sirleaf over aide's comments

Liberian newspapers protest threatening remarks by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's security chief. (Wade Williams/FrontPage Africa)

Most governments, even repressive ones, at least give lip service to supporting freedom of the press--especially on World Press Freedom Day, May 3. But in Liberia this month, Othello Daniel Warrick, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's chief security aide, shocked local journalists by threatening them and calling them "terrorists" at a public event to mark the occasion, according to news reports and local media groups.

Blog   |   Nigeria

Nigeria's impunity ranking: The facts don't lie

Nigeria's press freedom record is on the decline.

For the first time since 2008, when CPJ began publishing its annual Impunity Index, Nigeria has made the list of the "worst nations in the world for deadly, unpunished violence against the press."

Blog   |   Burundi

Burundi reporter shot by police for seeking information

Patrick Paggio
Niyonkuru is recovering from a bullet wound to the arm. (Courtesy Patrick Paggio
Niyonkuru)

Burundi's government took unusually swift action last week in response to the police shooting of a radio reporter, after the journalist sought information at a roadblock in the capital Bujumbura where market vendors were allegedly being "taxed" for passage. Perhaps the shooting could have been averted if authorities had bothered to discipline officers involved in previous attacks on journalists.

Blog   |   Brazil, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia

In Index, a pattern of death, a roadmap for solutions

Activists protest impunity in journalist murders in the Philippines. (AFP/Noel Celis)

Gerardo Ortega's news and talk show on DWAR in Puerto Princesa, Philippines, went off as usual on the morning of January 24, 2011. Ortega, like many radio journalists in the Philippines, was outspoken about government corruption, particularly as it concerned local mining issues. His show over, Ortega left the studios and headed to a local clothing store to do some shopping. There, he was shot in the back of the head. His murder underlines the characteristics and security challenges common to many of the killings documented as part of CPJ's new Impunity Index: A well-known local journalist whose daily routines were easily tracked, Ortega had been followed and killed by a hired gunman. He had been threatened many times before in response to his tough political commentary, a pattern that shows up time and again on CPJ's Impunity Index.

Blog   |   CPJ

In 2 major efforts, journalist security tailored to fit

Two major security efforts coincide with World Press Freedom Day.

In the past, donors and groups providing security to journalists in less-developed nations tended to export a Western, military-style of training designed for a war-time environment. But the danger of covering combat is one thing. Being fired upon by a motorcycle-riding assassin is another--as is being sexually molested in a crowd, discovering a video camera in one's bedroom, or having one's phone calls intercepted. And then there is emotional toll of losing dear colleagues, and wondering whether you or your family will be next.

Blog   |   Internet, USA

So your Twitter account is hacked? Reset, tweet, pray.

More than a quarter million Twitter accounts have been hacked worldwide, the social media company disclosed in February, but Tuesday's attack on The Associated Press's verified account, @AP, had unusual effect. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 143 points after someone hijacked the AP's account to falsely tweet that two explosions at the White House had wounded President Barack Obama. The market recovered, but the hacking--just the latest in a series of attacks on news organizations--sent shudders through a profession that's grown accustomed to breaking its news on Twitter.

April 24, 2013 3:07 PM ET

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Blog   |   Somalia

In Somalia, the mysterious case of Rahmo Abdulkadir

It seemed clear-cut and sadly familiar: A journalist was shot and killed while walking in Mogadishu, one of the deadliest places in the world for the press. Yet in the four weeks that have passed since those initial reports from international and local news agencies--accounts that were then amplified by the United Nations, CPJ, and numerous human rights groups--virtually everything about the case has been cast into doubt. Was there a murder, after all? Who was the woman said to have been targeted? Does she even exist, at least as she was described? What did the people described as eyewitnesses really see? And why, after telling local journalists early on that the case was actually being investigated as a false report, have police gone silent for weeks?

April 23, 2013 9:22 AM ET

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Blog   |   Ethiopia

UN panel: Eskinder Nega jailing violates international law

Eskinder Nega (Eskinder family)

Authorities in Ethiopia describe Eskinder Nega, a prominent columnist and government critic jailed since September 2011 on vague terrorism charges, as a dangerous individual bent on violent revolution. However, in an opinion handed down in 2012--publicized only this week by Washington, D.C.-based legal advocacy group Freedom Now--a United Nations panel of five independent experts ruled that Eskinder's imprisonment came "as a result of his peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression."

April 5, 2013 2:35 PM ET

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Blog   |   Somalia

CPJ launches Somali Security Guide

Last week, two gunmen waited near the home of a young Somali journalist, Rahmo Abdulkadir, who had recently returned to the capital from the Galgadud district in central Somalia where she worked as a reporter for Radio Abudwaq (Worshipper). According to local journalists, 25-year-old Rahmo had just left an Internet café in Mogadishu around 9:30 p.m. on March 24 with a friend when she was shot and killed. Her companion was not harmed.

April 1, 2013 1:01 PM ET

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Blog   |   Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe frees prominent lawyer Mtetwa on bail

Reporters surround Beatrice
Mtetwa as she exited a courthouse today. (ZLHR/Kumbirai Mafunda)

Beatrice Mtetwa, a tenacious lawyer who has won accolades for stubbornly defending journalists and others persecuted by Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe, regained her freedom today after a hellish week that began on March 17 when she was arrested and charged with the criminal offense of "defeating or obstructing the course of justice."

March 25, 2013 3:59 PM ET

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Blog   |   Somalia

Jubilation, then tragedy, for Mogadishu press this week

This week in Mogadishu, Abdiaziz Abdinuur, left was freed from prison, but Mohamed Ali Nuxurkey was killed in a bombing that injured three other journalists. (AFP, Raxanreeb)

"He's free! He's free!" a friend of mine from Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, shouted down the phone line on Sunday. For a fleeting second I did not know whom he referred to, given the high number of journalists imprisoned in the Horn region of Africa--but then it dawned on me: Abdiaziz Abdinuur had finally found justice. The 25-year-old freelance reporter was arrested on January 10 in Mogadishu for the most incomprehensible alleged crime: conducting an interview.

Blog   |   Kenya

New challenges for local and foreign press in Kenya

Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo has criticized the press in the past. (The Nation)

Kenya has passed peacefully through its election period, but questions still hang over the legitimacy of presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta's victory--as well as over the future of the country's media coverage. During polling, challenges arose for both local and international media, and they have not subsided. For the foreign press, it is now unclear how to get accreditation to report in the country. Local journalists are worried about the rise of self-censorship, and freedom of expression advocates are concerned by plans for vague regulations on hate speech.

Blog   |   Angola, Portugual

Portuguese media chilled by Angolan involvement

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos (left) and Anibal Cavaco Silva, president of Portugal, in Lisbon in 2009. (AFP/Joao Cortesao)

Portuguese journalists are increasingly concerned by Angola's growing investment and influence in their country. Buoyed by petrodollars and diamonds, powerful Angolan interests have been indulging in a buying spree in their former colonial power. Angolan capital invested in Portugal increased 35 times in the past decade, according to news reports. In a process often acidly described in Lisbon as a form of "reverse colonization," Angolans have gobbled up not only significant chunks of Portugal's banking, telecommunications, and energy companies, but also invested in the Portuguese media sector. 

Blog   |   Mali

In Mali, one journalist's detention ignites press revolution

News stands in Mali are empty as journalists strike. (news.abamako.com)

Mali's press has endured one attack too many.

Since the coup d'état of March 22, 2012, CPJ has documented a staggering 62 anti-press violations across Mali. Journalists and media houses have become ready targets of attacks, threats, intimidation, assassination attempts, arbitrary arrests, detentions, and censorship by separatist and Islamist militant groups and government security forces alike. 

March 14, 2013 5:04 PM ET

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Blog   |   Kenya, Security

In tense climate, Kenyan press can draw on solidarity

A supporter of Raila Odinga, a presidential candidate who was defeated last week by Uhura Kenyatta. (AFP/Jennifer Huxta)

Amid a tense presidential election, Kenyans have avoided a repeat of the deadly violence that followed the vote in 2007, when half a million people were uprooted and more than 1,000 people were killed. Still, the situation today is fraught. Ethnic identity dominates the nation's political divisions--and those same loyalties can undermine solidarity in the press corps.

Blog   |   India, Somalia

Jail for reporting on women in Mangalore, Mogadishu

Today marks International Women's Day. Hashtags like #IWD and #InternationalWomensDay have been trending on Twitter. Among the twitterati who voiced their support for women's rights was Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He tweeted: 

Blog   |   Kenya

Journalists relieved, wary amid Kenyan elections

Presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta speaks to the press on election day. (AP)

Journalists could be seen rushing from polling station to polling station Monday to see long queues of determined Kenyan voters in what was apparently a largely peaceful election, according to the Deputy Director of Kenya's statutory media council, Victor Bwire. But leading up to the vote, many journalists worked in a climate of fear; and many of them say they are still wary that, once results are in, they will face attacks and other challenges such as they experienced in the aftermath of the last presidential election in 2007.

Blog   |   Afghanistan, Mexico, Security, Somalia, Syria

Do news blackouts help journalists held captive?

An image grab from a YouTube video uploaded on December 18 allegedly shows NBC employees, from left to right, Aziz Akyavas, Richard Engel, and John Kooistra in captivity in Syria. (AFP/YouTube)

At any given time over the past two years, as wars raged in Libya and then Syria, and as other conflicts ground on in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, a number of journalists have been held captive by a diverse array of forces, from militants and rebels to criminals and paramilitaries. And at any given time, a small handful of these cases--sometimes one or two, sometimes more--have been purposely kept out of the news media. That is true today.

Blog   |   Kenya, Security

As Kenya votes, journalists must take precautions

Kenyan Prime Minister and presidential candidate Raila Odinga waves to supporters at a campaign rally in Mombasa on Sunday. (Reuters/Joseph Okanga)

Election-related violence is a worry for journalists in many countries, but perhaps nowhere more so than Kenya, where presidential polls will be held March 4. In the aftermath of the nation's last presidential elections in 2007, over one thousand people were killed in ethnic and political violence, live news broadcasts were banned, and the press faced a torrent of threats, leading to widespread self-censorship. Already, in recent weeks, some journalists have been harassed and their equipment confiscated, while media houses have been threatened in relation to coverage.

Blog   |   Somalia

Will talk of stronger Somali justice lead to action?

Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon met February 16 with the local journalist union. (NUSOJ)

Spirits of journalists in Somalia, the most dangerous country in Africa to practice the profession, were lifted slightly this week after Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon made several auspicious announcements. The key concern on the minds of journalists in the capital, Mogadishu, is access to justice--both in terms of journalists' own court appearances and in terms of solving the many outstanding murder cases of their colleagues. Twelve journalists were killed in the line of duty last year, the worst on record, and there hasn't been a single prosecution. 

Blog   |   Burundi

Burundi police attack journalists marching for Ruvakuki

Burundi journalists react to tear gas at Tuesday's protest. (Teddy Mazina)

On Tuesday, Burundi's press corps did what it has done for the past three weeks: protest the imprisonment of one of its own. Hassan Ruvakuki is a reporter jailed since November 28, 2011 on anti-state charges; for the first time, the journalists wore white t-shirts showing Ruvakuki in his green prison uniform. But this time, the reaction by police caught journalists by surprise.

Blog   |   Somalia, UK

Faith in Somali judiciary hard to find as Abdiaziz jailed

"Let's have faith in our judiciary system," Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed told an audience Monday at London's Chatham House, the foreign affairs think-tank.

Blog   |   Eritrea

Eritrea: Ali Abdu pleads ignorance of Dawit Isaac's fate

Ali Abdu, Eritrea's longtime information minister, has gone into exile, his brother has confirmed. (YouTube)

On Wednesday, the Swedish newspaper Expressen published what it described as an exclusive interview with Ali Abdu--Eritrea's long-time information minister, government spokesman, and censor-in-chief--who vanished from public view in November. The piece confirmed that Ali had gone into exile, but it shed no light on the whereabouts and well-being of more than two dozen imprisoned journalists.

Blog   |   France, Mali, Security

An information void in Mali as journalists are obstructed

Three weeks after France's military intervention in Mali, the war remains largely "without images and without facts," as described by Jean-Paul Mari, special envoy for the newsweekly Le Nouvel Observateur. Although journalists have been allowed to follow French and Malian forces into the towns that have been recovered from armed Islamist groups, the real battlefields and front lines remain off limits.

February 1, 2013 9:48 AM ET

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Blog   |   Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Journalist Assistance, Kenya, Somalia

Journalist Assistance helps record number in 2012

An increase in press freedom violations last year created a surge of need among journalists, driving a record number of assistance cases for CPJ's Journalist Assistance Program in 2012. More than three-quarters of the 195 journalists who received support during the year came from East Africa and the Middle East and North Africa, reflecting the challenges--including threats of violence and imprisonment--of working in these repressive regions. Here are some of the highlights of our work over the last year:

Blog   |   France, Mali, Security

In Mali, a war 'without images and without facts'

Soldiers with the Malian army speak to journalists. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

The French army is often called la Grande Muette, or "the Great Silent." The war in Mali confirms the French military's well-deserved reputation of being secretive about front-line actions. "Locking the information is more in the culture of the French army than of the U.S. army," says Maurice Botbol, director of La Lettre du Continent. In the first two weeks of military operations against Islamist militant groups in Mali, the French army has released only a blurry video of an air attack at an undisclosed location.

Blog   |   Security, Syria

Preparation helps freelancers survive, thrive

The Baba Amr district of Homs in March 2011. (AFP/Shaam News Network)

When the story is so important but the risks are so high, journalists must keep safety at the forefront of their thinking. That's especially true for freelancers who often do not have the support of a large news organization. Preparation, peer networking, and smart planning can help improve the odds of not only surviving hostile situations but succeeding in one's work.

January 24, 2013 11:01 AM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, Syria, USA

Talking international law and conflict journalists

What is the humanitarian function of journalism in wartime? How does international humanitarian law protect journalists? Why is impunity the most important challenge facing journalists working in conflict zones?

Blog   |   Burundi

Burundi journalists march to support Ruvakuki

Hassan Ruvakuki (IWACU)

At 8 o'clock Tuesday morning roughly 50 Burundian journalists silently marched around the courthouses in the capital, Bujumbura, and the offices of the justice minister, protesting the imprisonment of their colleague, Hassan Ruvakuki.

"They sentenced him to three years without following the law," said Patrick Nduwimana, one of the protest organizers and the interim director of local private radio station Bonesha FM. A week earlier, on Tuesday, January 8, an appeals court in Burundi had sentenced Ruvakuki, a reporter for Bonesha FM and the French government-backed Radio France Internationale, to three years imprisonment for "working with a criminal group."

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