Attacks on the Press   |   Cameroon

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Cameroon

The government sought to curtail popular protests and related news coverage as President Paul Biya extended 29 years of rule in an October election. Having consolidated power through constitutional amendments that removed term limits and stacked the membership of the election oversight agency with loyalists, Biya swept 78 percent of the vote in a poll marked by low turnout and allegations by the United States and France that irregularities occurred. Twenty-two opponents, none competitive, split the rest of the balloting. With Biya’s overwhelming dominance of the political and journalistic space, social media became the primary means to criticize his record on political repression, poverty, and corruption. In February, government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary summoned journalists to his office and accused Cameroonian social media users, many of whom were based abroad, of “manipulating” young people to destabilize the country. A month later, the government temporarily shut down a Twitter-via-SMS service to foil possible protests. Security forces obstructed journalists covering the violent dispersal of small-scale protests, although citizen journalists posted several videos to YouTube that showed heavy-handed police tactics. Throughout the year, public figures used their influence to prosecute journalists investigating corruption. At least three critical journalists were detained for varying periods.

February 21, 2012 12:26 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Angola

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Angola

Youth-led and social media-fueled protests demanding reform challenged President José Eduardo Dos Santos, who marked 32 years in power. Parliament, controlled by Dos Santos’ MPLA party, considered legislation to “combat crime” in information and communication technology. The bill, pending in late year, would stiffen penalties for defamation and would criminalize electronic dissemination of “recordings, pictures, and video” of any individual without the subject’s consent. In nationally televised remarks targeting citizen journalists, Dos Santos lashed out at the use of the Internet to organize “unauthorized demonstrations to insult, denigrate, provoke uproar and confusion.” (One YouTube user called Kimangakialo posted more than 150 clips of protests.) In the same April address, Dos Santos claimed journalists enjoyed unfettered freedom to criticize his leadership. But CPJ research shows that security forces assaulted, detained, and obstructed independent journalists covering protests and official functions. Powerful public figures and officials used security forces and the courts to settle scores with reporters investigating allegations of abuse of power, corruption, or misconduct. Two journalists, Armando José Chicoca and William Tonet, were sentenced to prison over their critical coverage; they were free on appeal in late year. José Manuel Gimbi faced intimidation from security forces while reporting from the militarized, oil-rich enclave of Cabinda. Denial-of-service attacks targeted the exile-run websites Club-K and Angola24horas, taking them off-line in October.


February 21, 2012 12:25 AM ET

Attacks on the Press   |   Ethiopia

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Ethiopia

Trumpeting economic growth on par with India and asserting adherence to the authoritarian model of China, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi pushed an ambitious development plan based in part on ever-hardening repression of critical journalists. The government aggressively extended application of a 2009 anti-terrorism law, designating rebel and opposition groups as terrorists and criminalizing news coverage of them. Authorities were holding seven journalists in late year on vague accusations of terrorism, including two Swedes who reported on separatist rebels in the oil-rich Ogaden region, and three Ethiopians with critical views of the ruling party. The government provided no credible evidence against the journalists, and both Zenawi and state media proclaimed the journalists' guilt before trial proceedings started. The Human Rights Committee of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights raised numerous questions about the use of the terror law in its periodic review of Ethiopia's record. In November, government intimidation led to the closing of the independent Awramba Times and forced two of its journalists, including 2010 CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee Dawit Kabede, to flee the country. Another journalist fled into exile in September after his name appeared in unredacted U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks. Police threatened to arrest the journalist after the cable showed he had spoken to U.S. diplomats about a potential press crackdown.

February 21, 2012 12:16 AM ET

Alerts   |   Liberia

Journalist harassed by police officer in Liberia

New York, February 15, 2012--A Liberian police officer on Sunday roughed up a journalist trying to cover allegations that police were harassing motorists, according to news reports.

February 15, 2012 4:33 PM ET


Alerts   |   Togo

News editor threatened repeatedly in Togo

Togolese journalist Max Savi Carmel.

New York, February 15, 2012--A Togolese journalist says he has been threatened repeatedly after conducting reporting for an as-yet-undisclosed story involving a top government official.

February 15, 2012 10:13 AM ET


Alerts   |   Nigeria

Nigeria's military obstructs journalists covering unrest

Nigerian soldiers stand guard in the central city of Jos. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

New York, February 8, 2012--Nigeria's military has harassed and obstructed journalists trying to report on unrest in recent days, according to local journalists and news reports.

February 8, 2012 6:00 PM ET


Alerts   |   Nigeria

Nigerian airport journalists locked out, equipment held

Over 60 journalists reporting from the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital, are locked out of their long-time press center. (AP/Sunday Alamba)

New York, February 7, 2012--Nigerian authorities have locked reporters based at the country's biggest airport out of their press center and withheld their equipment since Saturday, according to local journalists and news reports.

February 7, 2012 5:40 PM ET


Alerts   |   Central African Republic

Two editors given jail terms in Central African Republic

Editors from both these newspapers have been convicted on charges that include defamation. (Hirondelle)

New York, January 31, 2012--The convictions of two journalists in the Central African Republic over their critical coverage of a top official constitute political censorship, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. 

January 31, 2012 3:36 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Somalia

Somali journalist shot, killed by unknown gunmen

Somali people carry the coffin of journalist Hassan Osman Abdi, who was killed on Saturday evening. (AFP/Mohamed Abdiwahab)

New York, January 30, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists is saddened by Saturday's murder of a Somali journalist and calls on authorities to investigate the killing immediately and bring those responsible to justice.

January 30, 2012 10:29 AM ET


Alerts   |   Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Life sentence for blogger, prison for journalists

From left: Woubshet, Reeyot, Kifle.

New York, January 26, 2012--A U.S.-based journalist convicted on politicized terrorism charges in Ethiopia was sentenced to life in prison in absentia today, while two other Ethiopian journalists received heavy prison sentences in connection with their coverage of banned opposition groups, according to news reports.


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