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