Africa

Kenya and its press freedom commitment

In Kenya, a combination of legal and physical harassment makes it increasingly difficult for journalists to work freely. A CPJ special report finds that these restrictions on the Kenyan media come at a time when public discourse and transparency are essential, in light of hefty government spending on development, high-profile terrorist attacks, and the ongoing indictment of the deputy president by the International Criminal Court.

Gallery: Cartoonist Gado on the press
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Case   |   South Africa

Journalist attacked after covering protest in South Africa

Luvuyo Mehlwana, a reporter for the Daily Sun, one of the highest-circulated daily newspapers in South Africa, told CPJ he was kicked and beaten after covering a protest in the Northern Areas of the coastal city of Port Elizabeth on July 27, 2015.

July 30, 2015 1:29 PM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, Kenya

Mission Journal: Will Obama's visit boost hopes for press freedom in Kenya?

Billboards at Nairobi's airport welcome Barack Obama to Kenya. (CPJ/Sue Valentine)

President Barack Obama is expected to address a range of topics when he arrives in Kenya tomorrow. The Kenyan government says it plans to discuss security and trade, while opposition parties and civil society want good governance and human rights added to the agenda, according to news reports. We hope the discussion includes the commitments to improve press freedom that the Kenyan government made to CPJ last week.

On July 15, we released our special report, "Broken Promises: How Kenya is failing to uphold its commitment to a free press," in Nairobi to a room full of more than 50 Kenyan and foreign journalists. The report found that a combination of legal and physical harassment, as well as concentration in media ownership, is making it increasingly difficult for journalists to work freely in Kenya.

Alerts   |   Gambia

Gambian journalist abducted again, days after he was freed

New York, July 21, 2015--The Committee to Protect Journalists holds Gambian authorities responsible for the safety and well-being of radio journalist Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay. Ceesay was seen being forced into a car in Banjul, the capital, on July 17, four days after he was held for almost two weeks by individuals suspected of being government agents, according to news reports and a member of the journalist's family.

July 21, 2015 4:59 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Zambia

Journalists arrested in Zambia for publishing allegedly classified documents

New York, July 16, 2015--Zambian authorities have arrested two journalists and accused them of publishing classified documents, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the arrests and calls on Zambian authorities to release them immediately.

Alerts   |   Nigeria

Boko Haram threatens to kill Nigerian journalist

Abuja, Nigeria, July 15, 2015--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Nigerian authorities to ensure the safety of a Nigerian journalist who received a death threat from a suspected member of the Islamist militant sect Boko Haram. Adeola Akinremi, the features editor of the independent daily ThisDay in Lagos state, told CPJ about the threat earlier this month.

Reports   |   Kenya

Broken promises

How Kenya is failing to uphold its commitment to a free press

Kenya’s constitution guarantees freedom of the media, but President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee coalition has introduced several bills that undermine rather than enforce that principle. Journalists are vulnerable to legal harassment, threats, or attack, while news outlets are manipulated by advertisers or politician-owners. The deteriorating climate comes at a crucial time for Kenya’s democracy, security, and economy. A CPJ special report by Sue Valentine and Tom Rhodes

July 15, 2015 12:01 AM ET

Reports   |   Kenya

Broken promises

Introduction

On April 18, two journalists arrived near a state-owned ranch in Tana River County in southeast Kenya to investigate residents’ claims that local paramilitary police had impounded a large herd of cattle for allegedly trespassing and were demanding bribes to release the animals. Before the journalists got out of their car, about 15 officers attacked them, beating them with wooden clubs and metal rods, according to one of the journalists, news reports, and video footage of the attack. Both journalists were hospitalized, one with a broken leg.

Reports   |   Kenya

Broken promises

1. How media ownership and advertising curb critical reporting

Attempts to control the media in Kenya date back to at least 1929, with transmission of the first radio signal by the British East African Broadcasting Corporation, which served the interests of the colonial government. Throughout the country’s history, including independence in 1963 and the end of one-party rule in 1992, the press has largely served the interests of those in power, with leaders expecting loyalty and support, Kenyan media scholar Wilson Ugangu wrote in an essay published this year.

Reports   |   Kenya

Broken promises

2. Media contend with lawsuits, restrictive bills, legal limbo

Instead of passing new legislation in keeping with the new constitution’s guarantees for freedom of the press, the government has introduced a series of laws that undermine self-regulation and allow for harsh fines and even jail terms for journalists who commit perceived transgressions.

Reports   |   Kenya

Broken promises

3. Critical journalists silenced by threats of arrest or violence

Harassment of the press from official quarters does not begin or end with the passage of troublesome legislation. Journalists say they are routinely threatened, intimidated, and even attacked, and that government authorities are the culprit more often than not.

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