Nairobi, December 31, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in Zambia to thoroughly investigate accusations that a well-known rhumba musician attacked a freelance photographer on Friday at a concert in Lusaka, the capital.
Nairobi, December 31, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in Zambia to thoroughly investigate accusations that a well-known rhumba musician attacked a freelance photographer on Friday at a concert in Lusaka, the capital.
Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu Ahmed, government spokesman and censor-in-chief of the Red Sea nation, has been invisible in the past few weeks. The total absence of any independent press in Eritrea has allowed the government to maintain complete silence in the face of mounting questions and surging Internet rumors of his defection.
It was on November 17 that U.K.-based Eritrean opposition news website Assena first reported, citing unnamed sources, that Ali had sought asylum in Canada. Ten days later, Madote, a pro-government site, dismissed the Assena report and claimed, citing unnamed witnesses who reported by phone, that Ali was "seen walking in the capital and discussing with citizens."
Online journalist Houssein Ahmed Farah spent more than three months in jail in Djibouti before an appeals court finally released him in November--after his defense requested bail three times, Houssein said. His crime? Officially nothing. "It appears to have been an arbitrary arrest because there is still no evidence on file," Houssein told me. He said he was accused of distributing identity cards for the opposition, but he has not been charged with a crime.
Abuja, Nigeria, December 26, 2012--Nigerian authorities must immediately release two journalists who have been detained since Monday and allow a third journalist who has fled into hiding to return to his home and work freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
In pre-dawn raids on Monday, about 40 armed security agents arrested Aliyu Saleh, a reporter with Al-Mizan, a weekly Hausa-language newspaper, and Musa Muhammad Awwal, the paper's editor, at their homes in Rigasa in the northern state of Kaduna, according to news reports. The agents also confiscated the journalists' phones and money and briefly detained the journalists' wives, news reports said.
Exiled Somali journalists living in Nairobi were struck with disbelief this week when daily newspapers published a statement by the Department of Refugee Affairs ordering all Somali refugees to move to refugee camps. "The refugees, particularly those living in urban centers, are contributing to insecurity in the country," the statement read. The acting commissioner for refugee affairs, Badu Katelo, said aid agencies including the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) must stop providing aid to those outside the camps.
New York, December 21, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a series of censorship measures imposed this month by media regulators in Guinea against three popular current affairs talk shows stemming from news commentary critical of officials.
On December 18, 16 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) wrote an open letter to Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn calling for the immediate release of the independent journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega, who was condemned in July to 18 years in prison under the country's tough 2009 anti-terrorism legislation.
Abuja, Nigeria, December 18, 2012--State security agents in Southeast Nigeria blocked a reporter from filing a story Saturday evening about the status of a governor who hasn't been seen for several months. The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned this act of crude censorship.
At about 11:30 p.m. local time Saturday, seven plainclothes men accosted Ozioma Ubabukoh, a reporter with private media group Punch Newspapers, at the entrance of his home in Trans-Ekulu in the southeastern state of Enugu, according to local journalists and news reports. Ubabukoh told CPJ the men identified themselves as agents of Nigeria's State Security Service (SSS) and seized his telephone before ordering him to take them into his home. Two of the men threatened to "rough him up" if he didn't cooperate, Ubabukoh said.
South Africa is in the midst of one of its most important political events--the ruling African National Congress's Mangaung elective conference, which takes place once every five years to shape policy and elect new leadership. Because of the power of the ANC as South Africa's leading political party, the conference holds not only the future of the party in its hands, but also the future of South Africa.
Syrian violence contributed to a sharp rise in the number of journalists killed for their work in 2012, as did a series of murders in Somalia. The dead include a record proportion of journalists who worked online. A CPJ special report
Murder is the leading cause of work-related deaths among journalists worldwide--and this year was no exception. But the death toll in 2012 continued a recent shift in the nature of journalist fatalities worldwide. More journalists were killed in combat situations in 2012 than in any year since 1992, when CPJ began keeping detailed records.
Almost half of the 67 journalists killed worldwide in 2012 were targeted and murdered for their work, research by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows. The vast majority covered politics. Many also reported on war, human rights, and crime. In almost half of these cases, political groups are the suspected source of fire. There has been no justice in a single one of these deaths.
Police detained freelance reporter Moctar Barry on November 15, 2012, in the central town of Sévaré, after he returned from reporting on events in Gao, an Islamist-occupied city in the northern half of Mali, local journalists said.
In the eight years since unidentified assailants shot and killed Deyda Hydara of the Gambia, no one has been held to account. The late 2004 murder of Hydara, an immensely respected editor, columnist, and press freedom advocate known for his criticism of President Yahya Jammeh's repressive media policies, became a rallying point for Gambian journalists and the human rights community--a symbol of the violent means by which activists and journalists are silenced and of the impunity that envelops acts of intimidation, ranging from arson to torture and murder.
For most of its almost-150-year history, the meetings of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations' communications standards body, have been rather predictable affairs.
Back in November 2010, Britain's Channel 4 broadcast a leaked video that appears to show men in Sri Lankan military uniforms executing bound prisoners, the camera panning across a series of bodies laid out in a ditch. Family and friends identified one of those bodies as that of Tamil Tiger TV newscaster Shoba, also known as Isaipriya. If authenticated, the video could constitute evidence that Isaipriya was murdered. It would be one step toward accountability in a long string of unsolved murders of journalists in Sri Lanka. It would also be evidence of war crimes that are said to have been committed during the final phases of the 27-year civil war between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE. But disputes have ensued between the United Nations, which claims the video is authentic, and the Sri Lankan government, which claims that it is fake.
Abuja, Nigeria, December 12, 2012--A state prosecutor in the city of Bamenda in Cameroon has threatened to file defamation charges against an editor if he does not reveal his sources for a series of articles, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to immediately stop the harassment against Aaron Kah and allow him to report freely.
Worldwide tally reaches highest point since CPJ began surveys in 1990. Governments use charges of terrorism, other anti-state offenses to silence critical voices. Turkey is the world’s worst jailer. A CPJ special report
The imprisonment of journalists hit a record high in 2012, driven by the growing use of anti-terrorism charges to silence critical voices. This video, a centerpiece of CPJ's new Free the Press campaign, details the plight of imprisoned journalists worldwide and describes how international advocacy can make a difference in winning the freedom of jailed reporters, editors, photojournalists, and bloggers. (4:40)
Among the 232 journalists imprisoned around the world are Rwandan editors Agnès Uwimana and Saidati Mukakibibi, who are serving years-long terms on charges they defamed the president, Paul Kagame, and incited violence. Their crime? The women had published a series of stories in 2010 on several sensitive issues the Kagame government doesn't want scrutinized. The articles criticized government agricultural policy, examined the July 2010 murder of journalist Jean-Léonard Rugambage, described the falling-out between Kagame and two now-exiled military leaders, probed divisions within the army, and pushed for justice for ethnic Hutus killed in the 1994 genocide. The editors have exhausted domestic appeals, but now a team of defense lawyers is pursuing a complaint with the African Commission on Human and People's Rights on grounds that Rwanda violated its obligations to ensure freedom of expression and the right to fair trial.
Abuja, December 10, 2012--Authorities in Nigeria must immediately investigate Sunday's attack on a journalist by a state governor's security operatives and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
In 1950, the United Nations General Assembly declared December 10 Human Rights Day in commemoration of the adoption and proclamation two years earlier of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Every year, on this day, the U.N. chooses one right to highlight and advocate. This year, Human Rights Day is focused on the right of all people to make their voices heard. This is not possible when journalists worldwide are being murdered.
Abuja, December 7, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns censorship of Beninese private television station Canal 3 and defamation charges against its director for coverage of a corruption scandal involving aides of President Boni Yayi, who appears to have pressured the media regulator into taking action against the station.
New York, December 6, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Monday's criminal convictions of three Cameroonian journalists who tried to investigate a purported government memo that suggested corruption in the management of a state oil company. One of the defendants said he was tortured in custody, while a fourth journalist accused in the case died in custody.
The tortured and decapitated body of 39-year-old María Elizabeth Macías Castro was found on a Saturday evening in September 2011. It had been dumped by the side of a road in Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican border town ravaged by the war on drugs. Macías, a freelance journalist, wrote about organized crime on social media under the pseudonym "The Girl from Laredo." Her murder, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, was the first in which a journalist was killed in direct relation for reporting published on social media. It remains unsolved.
New York, December 5, 2012--Malian authorities should immediately return the passports and equipment seized from two international Al-Jazeera journalists who were detained for more than two days over the weekend for attempting to cross into militant-controlled territory, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, December 4, 2012--All sides of the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo should halt attacks on journalists and media outlets, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today after a radio station was attacked and taken off the air.
In October, two gunmen shot Shabelle Media Network reporter Mohamed Mohamud as he left a mosque one evening; he died from the gunshot wounds less than one week later. Several members of the Somali armed forces who happened to be at the scene opened fire on his assailants, local journalists said, but Mohamed's killers have still not been identified.
New York, December 3, 2012--Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo should lift the suspension imposed on Saturday on the United Nations-sponsored broadcaster Radio Okapi in the capital, Kinshasa, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Security agents assaulted Sylvie Ndinga, video journalist for the private broadcaster MNTV, and detained Yvon Le Pape, a reporter for the same station, in Brazzaville, the capital, on September 17, 2012, according to local journalists and news reports.
New York, November 27, 2012--Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo should investigate threats against at least four journalists in the eastern city of Bukavu and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Nairobi, November 26, 2012--Somali authorities must immediately release Ibrahim Mohamed Adan, a correspondent for the Somali service of the BBC, who has been held for nearly a week in Mogadishu without charge, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Three years ago, on November 23, 2009, 30 journalists and two media workers were brutally killed in the southern Philippine city of Maguindanao while travelling in a convoy with the family and supporters of a local politician. To this day, not a single suspect has been convicted, though local authorities have identified close to 200. The botched trial has been stalled with procedural hurdles. Victims' families have been threatened and key witnesses have been slain.
The battle for a free press sometimes feels like a war between indignation and intimidation. Journalists learn of abuses of power, crime, or corruption, and--indignant--they speak out. In response, the perpetrators of those abuses--be they government officials or criminals--try to intimidate the journalists into silence with threats, lawsuits, jail, or even murder. Last night, the Committee to Protect Journalists paid tribute to a handful of journalists for whom indignation is a driving force, no matter the scale of intimidation.
Lagos, Nigeria, November 16, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists today said it holds authorities in the Gambia responsible for the safety of a journalist who has received death threats following critical coverage of the government.
Abubacarr Saidykhan, a freelancer who contributes to several news websites, told CPJ that four unknown people on Tuesday threatened him at his Ebo Town residence in Kanifing Municipality, some seven miles (11 kilometers) from the capital Banjul. Saidykhan said he was near his compound gate with his brother when the men drove up in an unmarked vehicle with tinted windows and threatened to kill him next time they see him. One of the men called him "a very stubborn journalist" before they drove off.
Lagos, Nigeria, November 15, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an attack on a Nigerian journalist on Saturday and calls on authorities to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
Three unidentified men attacked Abubakar Sadiq Isah, a reporter for the Daily Trust, outside the town hall in Kwali, a local government area in Abuja, the capital, Isah told CPJ. The journalist said he was covering a public hearing when men began to beat him on his face, chest, and back. Isah said the attack occurred in front of police, who finally intervened and took him to the police station. He said his attackers were not arrested and that he filed a complaint with Umar Ozigi, the police chief. He reported no serious injuries from the attack.
Nairobi, November 15, 2012--An appellate court in Rwanda should overturn the prison sentence handed to the editor of a private weekly on Wednesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ also urges authorities to release Stanley Gatera, editor of the Kinyarwandan-language paper Umusingi, pending his planned appeal.
The Gasabo Intermediate Court in the capital, Kigali, sentenced Gatera, 22, to a one-year jail term and fines of 30,000 Rwandan francs (US$50) for inciting divisionism and gender discrimination in an opinion column he published in Umusingi in June, according to local journalists and news reports. The state prosecutor said in court that the article broke the country's laws about referring to ethnic identities, local journalists told CPJ. The Rwandan penal code includes crimes that carry prison terms for individuals who speak too provocatively about ethnicity, news reports said.
Lagos, Nigeria, November 14, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Chadian authorities to investigate reports of official intimidation of journalists working for a private community radio station in the southern town of Doba.
Alnodji Mbairaba Jean-paul, the editor-in-chief of La Voix du Paysan, told CPJ that he and two other journalists had been intimidated and threatened by Lamlengar Ngasebey, the town's mayor, and members of his family. La Voix du Paysan had broadcast on September 20, 21, 28 a series of news reports in which local citizens accused Ngasebey of abuse of power, mismanagement, and hiring practices that favored attractive women, the journalists said.
Here are the facts:
New York, November 8, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Cameroonian officials to drop criminal charges against a journalist arrested last month in the southwestern town of Buea for covering a secessionist gathering. The journalist is free on bail but faces a fine and up to six months in jail.
On September 30, 2012, Yves Phono Kepmi, a journalist with Radio Terre Nouvelle, was beaten by police officers in Chad's southwestern Mayo-Kebbi Est region for asking questions about a civil disturbance he was reporting on, according to local journalists.
Security forces arrived at the offices of Radio Télévision Autonome du Sud Kasaï (RTAS), in the south central town of Miabi, on August 15, 2012, and forced the station off the air, according to local press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED). The agents also confiscated the station's transmitter, JED said.
Approximately 30 journalists are targeted and murdered every year, and on average, in only three of these crimes are the killers ever brought to justice. Other attacks on freedom of expression occur daily: bloggers are threatened, photographers beaten, writers kidnapped. And in those instances, justice is even more rare. Today, the Committee to Protect Journalists joins freedom of expression advocates worldwide in a 23-day campaign to dismantle one case at a time a culture of impunity that allows perpetrators to gag journalists, bloggers, photographers and writers, while keeping the rest of us uninformed.
New York, November 1, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Monday's decision by authorities in Guinea-Bissau to expel Portuguese journalist Fernando Teixeira Gomes from the country in connection with his critical coverage of the transitional government.
At least three journalists working in the restive, mineral-rich province of North Kivu have fled into hiding in August and September 2012 after saying they were threatened in reprisal for their reporting, CPJ has learned.
The Higher Council for Broadcasting and Communication, or CSAC, the DRC's state-run media regulatory agency, announced in August 2012 that it would indefinitely ban broadcasters from airing talk shows and call-in programs about the ongoing conflict between the government and rebels in the eastern provinces of the country, according to news reports.
Congolese Communications Minister Lambert Mende banned private daily Le Journal indefinitely on June 29, 2012, in connection with an editorial that he said incited racism and tribalism, local press freedom group OLPA reported.
Four armed men abducted Franck Fwamba, editor of the monthly magazine Mining News, and forced him into an unmarked car at around 6 p.m. on June 6, 2012, in the southern city of Lubumbashi, according to local journalists and the press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED).
New York, October 31, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the criminal convictions of two journalists and the suspension of their newspaper in Burkina Faso on charges of criminal defamation in connection with their allegations of corrupt practices in the state prosecutor's office.
Nairobi, October 29, 2012--Somali authorities should conduct a thorough investigation into the October 21 shooting of journalist Mohamed Mohamud "Turyare," who died from his wounds on Sunday, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Mohamed, 22, a reporter and website editor for the Shabelle Media Network, had been shot by unidentified gunmen in the Hawo Tako neighborhood in the Wadajir district of Mogadishu, according to local journalists and news reports. He was hospitalized for abdominal surgery, and local journalists told CPJ his health was improving until Saturday afternoon. He died at around 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, the journalists said.
Photojournalist Alf Kumalo, whose career chronicled the inception, injustice, and demise of apartheid in South Africa, passed away on Sunday in a Johannesburg hospital at the age of 82.
New York, October 23, 2012--Authorities in Equatorial Guinea indefinitely suspended a radio program on a government-controlled outlet during a broadcast on Friday that included criticism of the president of the Supreme Court, according to local journalists and news reports.
More than 40 media organizations worldwide are demanding urgent action by governments, the United Nations, and the industry to stop violence against journalists and end impunity in attacks on the press. They made their position known in a joint statement delivered today to the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Nairobi, October 22, 2012--Somali authorities must investigate the shooting of a journalist for a national broadcaster, identify the motive, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Two gunmen shot Mohamed Mohamud Turyare, reporter and website editor for the Shabelle Media Network, after he left a mosque in the Hawo Tako neighborhood in the Wadajir district of Mogadishu at around 6 p.m. on Sunday, according to local journalists and news reports. Mohamed was hospitalized for gunshot wounds in his chest and abdomen, the journalists said.
State security agents barred a journalist from covering an October 15, 2012, hearing of a Supreme Court case of seven prisoners on death row, according to local journalists and news reports.
"If a journalist can't fight for his own right, then he has no responsibility to fight for others," Desmond Utomwen, a senior correspondent with TheNews Magazine/PM News, told me after a High Court judge on October 4 awarded him 100 million naira (US$637,000) in special damages from the Nigeria Police Force and Guarantee Trust Bank Plc.
Utomwen's victory represents the largest award for any journalist in Nigeria's 52-year history as an independent nation and sets a clear precedent for the country's beleaguered press.
Nairobi, October 9, 2012--Security agents in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland shuttered private broadcaster Horseed FM on Saturday morning and ordered Internet service providers in the region to block the station's website, according to local journalists.
Nairobi, October 5, 2012--Ethiopian authorities should halt their harassment of journalists covering the country's Muslim community and their intimidation of citizens who have tried to speak to reporters about sensitive religious, ethnic, and political issues, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Police in the capital, Addis Ababa, briefly detained Marthe Van Der Wolf, a reporter with the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Voice of America as she was covering a protest by members of Ethiopia's Muslim community at the Anwar Mosque, local journalists said. The protesters were demonstrating against alleged government interference in Islamic Council elections scheduled for Sunday, according to VOA and local journalists.
Lagos, Nigeria, October 5, 2012--Chadian authorities are abusing the judicial and law enforcement systems to silence news coverage critical of the government's performance, censoring publications and targeting one editor with an unjust criminal conviction. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the government to immediately halt its actions.
Nairobi, October 4, 2012--Ugandan police officers beat three journalists while they were reporting on the arrest of opposition leader Kizza Besigye outside the Kampala Central Police Station today, according to news reports. The attacks are the latest in at least 10 cases of similar assaults documented by CPJ in several months.
Nairobi, October 3, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a police raid on a news production company in Belgravia, a suburb north of the capital, on September 26 in which several journalists were detained and equipment confiscated.
A radical militant Islamist group released an 18-minute video on May 1, 2012, that threatened attacks on at least 14 local and international news outlets, according to news reports. In the video, Boko Haram, a group seeking the imposition of Sharia law in northern Nigeria, accused the outlets of biased reporting and crimes against Islam and also claimed responsibility for prior attacks on newspapers, news reports said.
Armed men in plainclothes raided the offices of CNN in the commercial capital of Lagos on January 16, 2012, amid nationwide protests over hikes in fuel prices, according to local journalists and news reports.
Nairobi, September 21, 2012--Unidentified gunmen killed veteran Somali journalist Hassan Yusuf Absuge in Mogadishu this morning, just hours after he had reported on an explosion that killed 14 people including three of his colleagues.
Soumaïla Abdoulaye Maïga, a presenter with community station Radio Soni in the northeastern town of Ansongo, went into hiding on April 13, 2012, after being warned of an imminent attack by separatist fighters of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), according to local journalists. After Maïga fled, the fighters raided his house and detained a fellow journalist and friend, local journalists said.
Members of Ansar Dine, a Salafist militant group affiliated with Al-Qaeda, shut down two local radio stations on March 27, 2012, as they seized the northeast town of Kidal from the Malian army, according to local journalists.
Nairobi, September 20, 2012--Three Somali journalists were killed and at least four were injured in a suicide bomb attack in a Mogadishu café today, according to news reports and local journalists. The attack took place across the street from the National Theater, where a bomb blast in April wounded at least 10 journalists, news reports said.
South African journalists and civil society groups were uneasy this month amid rumors that the Protection of State Information Bill, commonly known as the Secrecy Bill, would pass the Upper House of parliament, the last step before a presidential signature. Since 2008, journalists and civil society have lobbied against the bill, which many fear would spell the end of investigative journalism. A number of these fears have been alleviated by nearly 200 amendments to the draft since its inception, according to the communications director of the ruling African National Congress's (ANC) parliamentary caucus, Moloto Mothapo.
Militants belonging to the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), a Salafist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda, seized control of community station Radio Soni in the northeastern town of Ansongo on August 29, 2012, according to local journalists.
Two officials of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), a Salafist militant group affiliated with Al-Qaeda, raided the studios of Radio Annya in the northeastern town of Gao on August 20, 2012, according to the BBC.
Writer, journalist, blogger, and free speech activist Eskinder Nega, the 2012 recipient of PEN American Center's Freedom to Write Award, lived in Washington, D.C., before returning to his native Ethiopia to start one of the country's first-ever independent newspapers. On Friday, Eskinder was back in D.C.--not physically, but as the subject of a candlelight vigil at the African American Civil War Memorial that commemorated the first anniversary of the blogger's arrest and sent the message that those jailed for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of speech are never forgotten.
Rebel fighters of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), a separatist movement of ethnic Tuaregs in northern Mali, stormed the offices of private Radio Adar Khoïma in the northeastern town of Gao on April 3, 2012, according to local journalists and news reports. The rebels kidnapped a journalist and assaulted him, and forced the station off the air for 72 hours, the sources said.
Lagos, Nigeria, September 17, 2012--State security agents in the Gambia on Friday ordered two independent newspapers to cease publication immediately but provided no explanation, according to local journalists and news reports.
Agents from the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in the capital, Banjul, visited the offices of the daily The Standard and the paper Daily News, which publishes three times a week, and told them that the president had ordered both papers to be shut down immediately, according to news reports. The agents told the staff that they could seek an explanation from the president's office, which oversees the operations of the NIA, news reports said. The officials did not specify how long the suspension would last.
Lagos, Nigeria, September 12, 2012--An Ivoirian government security detail assaulted a journalist covering the eviction of a senior official's family on Friday, seizing his equipment and leaving him bleeding and bruised, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the attack and calls on authorities to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.
A police officer, a military soldier, and agents in plainclothes attacked Anderson Diédri, a reporter for the private daily Le Nouveau Courrier, as he interviewed and photographed a woman and her five children as they were being evicted from their home in Abidjan, according to local journalists and news reports. The woman's husband, Albert Toikeusse Mabri, the minister of planning and development, had sought the eviction after filing for divorce in June.
Nairobi, September 11, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on the Ethiopian government to set free six journalists in prison for their work, a day after Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye were pardoned and released from Kality Prison in the capital Addis Ababa.
Alhamdulillah! Finally, a technologist designed a security tool that everyone could use. A Lebanese-born, Montreal-based computer scientist, college student, and activist named Nadim Kobeissi had developed a cryptography tool, Cryptocat, for the Internet that seemed as easy to use as Facebook Chat but was presumably far more secure.
Nigerian soldiers beat Leadership Newspapers reporter David-Chyddy Eleke, confiscated his camera, and arrested him for taking pictures of the demolition of buildings in Awka, in Anambra State in Nigeria's southeast region on September 6, 2012, according to local journalists and news reports.
On September 5, 2012, the studios of TV+, a private television station in the capital, Libreville, owned by André Mba Obame, the country's main opposition leader, were attacked by six unknown assailants, Agence France-Presse quoted Editor-in-Chief Ismaël Obiang Nze as saying. In the attack around 3 a.m. local time, a security guard was hit on the head with a hammer, stabbed in the back, and tied up, but his injuries were not critical, Nze said.
Hardly ever do Nigerian journalists get justice for assaults suffered in the line of duty. But things may be set to change with the case of Benedict Uwalaka, a photojournalist with Leadership Newspapers, who on August 9 was brutally assaulted at a government hospital in Lagos State. The first step toward justice came 22 days later, when Bayo Ogunsola, one of the assailants identified by Uwalaka, was arraigned in court on August 31 on a two-count charge of assault and destruction of the journalist's camera. Ogunsola pleaded not guilty on both counts.
New York, September 4, 2012--A Tanzanian TV journalist was killed on Sunday during a confrontation with police over the arrest of another journalist, according to several local journalists who witnessed the shooting.
We talk a lot about hacking attacks against individual journalists here, but what typifies an attempt to access a reporter's computer? Joel Simon, CPJ's executive director, received an email last week that reflects some characteristics of a malware attack against a journalist or activist. There was nothing particularly notable about the targeting. (Like many reporters, CPJ receives such attempts occasionally). The attack failed at the first fence, and my casual investigation into the source was inconclusive. There are no shocking answers or big headlines to draw from this attack. But it does illustrate a contemporary reality: Opportunistic assailants regularly shower journalists with software attacks.
Lagos, Nigeria, August 30, 2012--Authorities in Guinea closed a private radio station on Sunday, preventing the outlet from reporting on the next day's protests, according to news reports. Liberté FM has been targeted in the past, the reports said.
New York, August 28, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes today's decision by the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice to release the editor of a leading independent weekly from jail and drop all criminal charges against him. CPJ also calls for the release of eight other journalists now imprisoned in Ethiopia for their work.
Temesghen Desalegn, editor of Feteh, was released from Kality Prison in Addis Ababa, the capital, at around 3 p.m. today, according to Feteh Deputy Editor Hailemeskel Beshewamyelhu. The journalist was jailed on Friday in connection with his articles that appeared in seven editions of Feteh and criticized the policies of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, according to local journalists.
Lagos, Nigeria, August 24, 2012--Ivorian authorities must immediately halt censorship of news outlets reporting critically on the government and investigate an armed assault on the offices of a publishing group, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, August 23, 2012--Ethiopian authorities must immediately release Temesghen Desalegn, editor of the leading weekly Feteh, who was ordered jailed today pending his trial on defamation, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Ethiopians awakened this morning to state media reports that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, 57, the country's leader for 21 years, had died late Monday in an overseas hospital of an undisclosed disease. Within seconds, Ethiopians spread the news on social media; within minutes, international news media were issuing bulletins. Finally, after weeks of government silence and obfuscation over Meles' health, there was clarity for Ethiopians anxious for word about their leader. Still, it was left to unnamed sources to fill in even the basic details. Meles died in a Brussels hospital of liver cancer, these sources told international news organizations, and he had been ill for many months.
"Death of yet another African leader highlights secrecy & lack of transparency when it comes to ailing leaders," CNN's Faith Karimi noted on Twitter, where the hashtag #MelesZenawi was trending globally.
On August 13, 2012, unidentified passengers illegally sitting on and hanging from rail cars of a moving train in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital, assaulted two photojournalists for taking pictures of them from a pedestrian bridge, according to news reports.
Lagos, Nigeria, August 16, 2012--Unidentified gunmen today stormed a private television station owned by Gabon's main opposition leader and burned down its transmitters, according to local journalists and news reports. It was the second armed attack on the broadcaster since 2009.
A group of armed men attacked the office of the local branch of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the southern city of Warri on August 7, 2012, according to news reports. The men came with kegs of gasoline and threatened to lynch journalists and burn the office if they were not granted media coverage, news reports said.
A day before U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited South Sudan this month, McClatchy correspondent Alan Boswell reported that President Salva Kiir had finally acknowledged his government's support for a Nuba Mountains-based group that had been skirmishing with Sudanese forces. In a letter to his U.S. counterpart, the story said, Kiir apologized for his previous denials, which came in the face of U.S. intelligence to the contrary. The story, which exposed an important element in the tense relations between the two once-joined nations, put Boswell in the cross-hairs.
New York, August 15, 2012--Gambian national security agents summarily shut an independent radio station early this morning without providing an explanation, according to news reports. Authorities have censored Taranga FM at least twice before in retaliation for its exclusive news review program, according to news reports.
Officers of the Gambian National Intelligence Agency stormed Taranga FM studios in Sinchu Alhagie village, southwest of Banjul, the capital, and forced it off the air, according to news reports. The officials also took the station's license as well as the contact information of its board members, local journalists said. The officers told the station staff only that they had received "directives from above," news reports said.
Nairobi, August 15, 2012--Authorities in Djibouti must immediately release a journalist for an opposition news website who has been jailed for a week without charge or access to a lawyer or his family, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Two police officers arrested Houssein Ahmed Farah, a contributor to the Europe-based news website La Voix de Djibouti (The Voice of Djibouti), on August 8, according to news reports. Three days later, a local judge ordered him to be remanded to Gabode Prison in Djibouti City, the capital, according to local journalists. Houssein is diabetic, and local journalists believe he has not been granted access to a doctor while in detention.
Lagos, Nigeria, August 14, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Nigerian authorities to immediately investigate an attack on the grounds of a government hospital that targeted a photographer seeking to cover the release of the remains of June plane crash victims to their families.
The 17-year-old videographer Anas al-Tarsha regularly filmed clashes and military movements in the city of Homs in Syria, and posted the footage on YouTube. On February 24, he was killed by a mortar round while filming the bombardment of the city's Qarabees district, according to news reports. The central city had been under attack for more than three weeks as Syrian forces stepped up their assault on opposition strongholds.
Lagos, Nigeria, August 10, 2012--Togo's media regulatory body has suspended the call-in shows of a leading private radio station without giving the station an opportunity to defend itself in court, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to immediately allow Légende FM to resume broadcasting all of its programs.
Nairobi, August 9, 2012--Ethiopian authorities must release a journalist who has been detained for almost three weeks, and allow three Muslim news outlets to resume publishing immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Local journalists believe the Muslim press in Ethiopia is being targeted for its coverage of protests by the Muslim community.
Lagos, Nigeria, August 7, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an attack on two journalists by soldiers in Sierra Leone and calls on authorities to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Lagos, Nigeria, August 7, 2012--Members of an Islamist militant group attacked a radio journalist in Mali on Sunday and ordered his station off the air, according to local journalists and news reports. The attack was in retaliation for the station's coverage of local protests, according to local journalists and a leader of the Islamist group.
New York, August 6, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Friday's decision by Gabon's state-run media regulator to suspend two private newspapers for six months over criticism of top officials.
In a press statement obtained by CPJ, the National Communications Council accused weeklies Ezombolo and La Une of disrespecting public institutions "and the personalities that embody them." Local journalists told CPJ that the council appeared to be singling out critics of the government.
A journalist in the northern breakaway republic of Somaliland was attacked by police while covering a child custody dispute in a local court on August 4, 2012, according to local journalists and news reports.
Nairobi, August 3, 2012--An appeals court in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, has reduced a 14-year prison sentence given to journalist Reeyot Alemu in January to five years and dropped most of the terrorism charges against her, according to local journalists.
Reeyot, a columnist for the independent weekly Feteh, was sentenced in January and fined 33,000 birrs (US$1,500) under Ethiopia's sweeping anti-terrorism law for planning and conspiring a terrorist act; possessing property for terrorist acts; and participating in the promotion or communication of a terrorist act, according to local journalists.
All the radio stations wanted him, and for good reason--Abdi Jeylani Malaq was one of the most famous comedians in Mogadishu, and it was the holy month of Ramadan when the radio broadcasters hold quiz shows. Abdi had been in the business since 1989 and was in hot demand as a commentator for the competitions. He had just finished one such quiz show Tuesday evening at Radio Kulmiye, in the capital's central region, and had left the station for home when two gunmen shot him five times in the chest and head, local journalists told me. He was pronounced dead from blood loss at Medani Hospital and was buried Thursday. "He was a great friend for me and for all Somali journalists," recounted Abdalla Ahmed, a reporter for the private Mogadishu station Radio Risaale.
Johannesburg, August 2, 2012--An appeals court in the Mozambican city of Beira should reverse the criminal libel conviction of a journalist who wrote about a disagreement between a private school and the family of a disabled student, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Falume Chabane was sentenced to a 16-month suspended prison term on July 20 and ordered to pay damages of 150,000 meticais, according to news reports.
Radio Gbafth, an independent community radio station in Tonkolili district, was attacked by supporters of a local politician on July 19, 2012, according to local journalists and the Media Foundation of West Africa, a Ghana-based press freedom organization. The politician, John Raka Conteh, also known as Potas, had been invited as a panelist on one of the station's programs to discuss the postponement of the local election, the reports said.
Johannesburg, July 30, 2012--South African authorities should immediately drop a criminal investigation against three newspaper journalists who have sought to report details on a multi-billion-dollar arms scandal, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Nairobi, July 30, 2012--The Tanzanian government today banned indefinitely the critical Swahili-language weekly MwanaHalisi, accusing the paper of publishing seditious articles, according to local journalists and a statement by the information ministry.
The ministry claimed that MwanaHalisi's four July editions contained seditious and false material but did not specify particular articles. Under the 1976 Newspaper Act, Tanzanian authorities can suspend a newspaper at will if they deem that it has "seditious intent," according to CPJ research. MwanaHalisi Chief Editor Jabir Idrissa told CPJ that the paper is considering filing an appeal.
Since I published a blog last week on the lack of information about the health and whereabouts of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, readers have deluged it with comments (over 175 as of today), reflecting the pent-up interest in the premier's status and deeply divided views of his leadership.
The rampage inside a Colorado movie theater that killed 12 people and injured dozens more is the most recent reminder that a journalist anywhere can face sudden, great emotional stress. Any story involving tragedy--from domestic violence to natural disasters--can inflict an emotional toll on field journalists. The very empathy that makes a journalist a good storyteller puts him or her at risk.
This week, Morgan Marquis-Boire and Bill Marczak of the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab provided a disturbing look into the likely use of a commercial surveillance program, FinFisher, to remotely invade and control the computers of Bahraini activists. After the software installs itself onto unsuspecting users' computer, it can record and relay emails, screenshots, and Skype audio conversations. It was deployed against Bahraini users after being concealed in seemingly innocent emails.
If you search for the name of Ethiopia's prime minister, Meles Zenawi, on Twitter these days, you'll see a flurry of incongruent postings: Meles is hospitalized in critical condition; he's fine and returning to work; he died two weeks ago; he's on holiday. Journalists for international news outlets have tried to sort out fact from rumor, but they've gotten no help from Ethiopian government officials who offered only vague assurances that the country's longtime leader was ill but recovering. In Ethiopia, where the government has imposed increasingly repressive measures on the domestic press corps, news coverage has been minimal and contradictory.
International news outlets, such as Reuters, The Associated Press, and the BBC, reported last week that Meles was hospitalized for an undisclosed condition. Reuters, citing diplomatic sources, said he was being treated in Brussels, although even that scant nugget of information was not officially confirmed.
Nairobi, July 23, 2012--Ethiopian authorities blocked the publication of a prominent independent newspaper over the weekend in connection with its stories on the health of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, according to local journalists.
This week, YouTube announced a feature that should catch the eye of video journalists and bloggers working in dangerous conditions. After uploading a video to YouTube, you can now deploy a "blur faces" post-production tool that, in theory, should disguise the visual identity of everyone on the screen. The Hindu newspaper has an excellent how-to guide for their readers.
Nairobi, July 18, 2012--Police in Kigali are holding a newspaper reporter whose employer had earlier filed a complaint alleging that security agents had seized and interrogated him, according to news reports.
On Tuesday, police arrested Idriss Gasana Byiringiro, a political reporter for the private weekly Chronicles, on suspicion of providing false information, the paper reported. The journalist has not been allowed access to his family or a lawyer, according to news reports and local journalists. No formal charges have been publicly disclosed.
Nairobi, July 11, 2012--A veteran Ethiopian state journalist who was twice imprisoned on vague corruption and copyright charges and recently convicted on the lesser charge was released today on account of a reduced sentence, local journalists said.
A panel of judges at the Lideta Federal High Court in the capital, Addis Ababa, sentenced Abdulsemed Mohammed, a former senior producer with government-controlled broadcaster Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency (ERTA), to three and half years in prison but said he could go free on account of time already served. The judges also put Abdulsemed on probation for two years, the local journalists said.
Abuja, Nigeria, July 11, 2012--A Gambian judge ordered the arrest of a journalist Tuesday on contempt of court charges, the third instance of a journalist being detained on such charges in as many weeks, according to local journalists.
Police arrested Sidiq Asemota, the legal affairs correspondent of the pro-government Daily Observer, while he was on assignment at the High Court in Banjul, the capital, his employer reported. Judge Emmanuel Nkea of the Special Criminal Court had issued an arrest warrant for Asemota on Monday, news reports said.
Abuja, Nigeria, July 10, 2012--A Belgian journalist who released a critical documentary on the murder of a human rights activist was denied entry into the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Sunday. The Committee to Protect Journalists denounces the country's decision to block Thierry Michel entry into the country for what seems to be an attempt to silence critical journalism.
Unidentified armed men wearing masks abducted Abdrahmane Keïta, editor of the private bi-weekly L'Aurore, in a public square in Bamako, the capital, at about 8:30 p.m. on July 2, 2012, according to local journalists and news reports. The gunmen dragged Keïta onto their vehicle while repeatedly kicking and beating him with truncheons, the reports said.
Nairobi, July 9, 2012--Two unidentified gunmen shot Universal TV reporter and anchor Abdulkadir Omar Abdulle on Saturday evening near his home in the southern Wadajir district of the capital, Mogadishu, but he survived the attack, local journalists told CPJ.
An eyewitness spotted two men removing pistols from their waists and warned Abdulkadir before the two gunmen shot him four times in the stomach and leg, according to local journalists and news reports. The journalist managed to run inside his house and the two gunmen fled the scene. Abdulkadir is recovering at Madina Hospital, local journalists told CPJ.
Abuja, Nigeria, July 6, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an attack on a Togolese journalist who was trying to cover a demonstration on Monday and calls on authorities to immediately investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Atayi Ayi, a reporter for the daily Forum de la Semaine, was taking photographs of a protest in Lomé, the capital, when two groups of unidentified demonstrators beat him and seized his camera, he told CPJ. The journalist said he was wearing a vest that identified him as press. The attack left him with injuries to his right eye, a bloody nose, and bruises all over his body, Ayi told CPJ. He was rescued by a police officer and reported the incident to the police the same day, he said. His camera was recovered by the police, he said.
With a medical drip attached to his hand, camped outside police headquarters along Parliamentary Avenue in Uganda' capital, Kampala, William Ntege was determined to get his video cameras back. Police had beaten Ntege, a journalist with the private broadcaster WBS, and damaged two of his cameras as he covered elections last year, according to local reports. "I am here for my two cameras that were destroyed by the Ugandan police. We are fed up," read a placard Ntege held up to passing police and the public last week before being invited in by the police for negotiations, according to local journalists.
Ethiopia has always been a country at the cutting edge of Internet censorship in Africa. In the wake of violence after the 2005 elections, when other states were only beginning to recognize the potential for online reporters to bypass traditional pressures, Meles Zenawi's regime was already blocking major news sites and blog hosts such as blogspot.com. Some sites and Web addresses have been blocked for their reporting ever since, including exiled media like Addis Neger Online and Awramba Times.
Habi Baby, an editor of the weekly Caravane, was arrested by soldiers at his home in Bamako, the capital, on June 12, 2012, after he published a story critical of Mali's security forces, according to local journalists and news reports.
Police in Lagos, the commercial capital, assaulted at least 10 journalists and confiscated their equipment on April 4, 2012, according to news reports. The journalists were covering a coroner's inquest into a 2010 traffic accident, the reports said.
Nairobi, June 27, 2012--Today's conviction of six Ethiopian journalists on vague terrorism charges is an affront to the rule of law and the constitution in the Horn of Africa country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. At least 11 journalists have been charged with terrorism since November 2011, according to CPJ research.
New York, June 27, 2012-The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's conviction of Ethiopian blogger Eskinder Nega on baseless terrorism charges. "The Ethiopian government has once again succeeded in misusing the law to silence critical and independent reporting," said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. "The charges against Eskinder are baseless and politically motivated in reprisal for his writings. His conviction reiterates that Ethiopia will not hesitate to punish a probing press by imprisoning journalists or pushing them into exile."
Abuja, Nigeria, June 25, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Gambian authorities to immediately release or charge a journalist who has been in detention without charge longer than the country's limit of 72 hours.
Abdulhamid Adiamoh, the managing editor of the Today newspaper, was arrested Wednesday in connection with an opinion article, "Counsel sidesteps issues in cross-examination of [vice chancellor of the University of The Gambia ] Professor Kah," in which he criticized a defense lawyer in the criminal trial of a former lecturer at the university.
Some journalists continue to receive the warning from Google about state-sponsored attacks that we mentioned last week. The message appears on top of logged-in services like Gmail. Occasionally it will disappear for a few hours and then reappear, but there is no way to remove it.
Nairobi, June 20, 2012--A Burundian appeals court must reverse the ruling against a journalist sentenced to life in prison on vague terrorism charges, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
A High Court in the eastern town of Cankuzo today found Hassan Ruvakuki, a reporter for local radio station Bonesha FM and French government-funded broadcaster Radio France Internationale, and 13 other defendants guilty of "participating in terrorist attacks" under the country's penal code, Patrick Nduwimana, the interim director at Bonesha FM, told CPJ.
Throughout December 2011, HAAC, Benin's state-run media regulatory agency, summoned more than a dozen newspapers to public hearings and handed them sanctions ranging from a public apology to indefinite suspension, according to news reports. HAAC's president is appointed by Benin's head of state, and two-thirds of the agency's members are appointed by the government, CPJ research shows.
Four East African journalists who were forced to flee their countries tell about their experiences, difficulties, and hopes for the future. (3:43)
Read CPJ's report, "Journalists in exile: Crisis in East Africa," for more information about journalists forced to go into exile.
With the launch of CPJ's most recent exile report, I will have worked exactly three years for our Journalist Assistance program. More than 500 cases later, I have helped journalists who have gone into hiding or exile to escape threats; those in need of medicine and other support while in prison, and journalists injured after violent attacks. The most harrowing accounts of all, however, come from those crossing from Eritrea into Sudan. And things seem to be getting worse, not better.
Fifty-seven journalists fled their country in the past year, with Somalia sending the greatest number into exile. Journalists also fled Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Rwanda--mostly for Kenya and Uganda. Exiles in East Africa must grapple with poverty and fear. A CPJ special report by María Salazar-Ferro and Tom Rhodes
Abuja, June 18, 2012--Nigerian authorities must investigate the assault on a Nigerian journalist on June 14 and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. News accounts reported that the attack occurred in the presence of military and police officers who did not come to the journalist's aid.
Nairobi, June 15, 2012--A new law in Ethiopia imposes prison sentences for offenses related to the independent use of telecommunications tools and services, according to local journalists and news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by broad and vaguely worded provisions of the law, under which journalists could be prosecuted for the methods they use to circumvent government surveillance and censorship.
Abuja, June 15, 2012--Authorities in Ghana must investigate the assault on a journalist by police while covering a police raid in Ho, the capital of Ghana's Volta region, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Victor Kwawukume, who reports for the state-owned Daily Graphic and is the regional chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association, was attacked by four unidentified police officers on June 10 as he covered a raid in Ho in which police arrested suspected criminals and drug peddlers, according to news reports. Kwawukume said he verbally identified himself as a journalist, but the officers attacked him, violently hitting him on the head and seizing his camera, the reports said.
On Wednesday, the same day the White House announced a strategic plan committing the United States to elevating its efforts in "challenging leaders whose actions threaten the credibility of democratic processes" in sub-Saharan Africa, a senior member of the U.S. Congress challenged the erosion of press freedom in a key U.S. strategic partner in the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia.
Dear President Ahmed Mohamoud Silyano: We are writing to express our alarm over deteriorating conditions for independent journalists in Somaliland. The Committee to Protect Journalists has monitored 58 cases of journalist detentions by authorities since the beginning of the year. We urge you to use your office to reverse this trend of harassment and uphold your 2010 election campaign pledge to respect and improve freedom of the press.
"I'm free but I don't feel free," said Mohamed Abdi Urad, chief editor of Yool, a critical weekly published in the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland. Mohamed had just been released on May 22 after a week in detention at Hargeisa Central Police Station. His crime? "I have no idea," he said. Mohamed had attempted to cover a deadly skirmish between civilians and a military unit over a land dispute in the eastern part of the capital, Hargeisa. "The Interior Minister just saw me walking towards the scene and ordered his men to arrest me," he said. A few days later, police released Mohamed unconditionally and without charge.
New York, June 13, 2012--Authorities in Angola's enclave of Cabinda must immediately launch an investigation into the robbery at the home of an independent journalist on Sunday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Unidentified assailants ransacked the house of José Manuel Gimbi, a correspondent of the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Voice of America and a human rights lawyer, at around 4 p.m., when no one was at home, the station reported. The assailants stole items related to the journalist's work, including two computers, an external hard drive, a voice recorder, two USB sticks, and a bag containing important documents related to his work, Arão Tempo, a lawyer and Gimbi's mentor, told CPJ. VOA reported that the assailants also stole some personal items, including books and jewelry belonging to Gimbi's wife.
New York, June 12, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Ivorian police's assault on a journalist on June 5 and calls on authorities to ensure the officers are brought to justice.
Two officers attacked Cybèle Athangba, a reporter with the daily La Nouvelle, while she was covering a protest of about 100 police officers in front of the police headquarters in the economic capital, Abidjan, according to local journalists and news reports. Athangba was among three journalists who were interviewing officers protesting the alleged embezzlement of funds that had been deducted from their salaries since 2006 to pay for their housing.
Nairobi, June 11, 2012--A Somali radio journalist was shot by two gunmen in Mogadishu on Friday, according to news reports. Mohamed Nur Mohamed, who was hit twice in the abdomen, survived the attack, the reports said.
Mohamed, a correspondent for Radio Bar-Kulan, a U.N.-sponsored radio broadcaster with headquarters in Nairobi, was walking home in the Hamarjajab neighborhood of the capital when the gunmen attacked him and then fled the scene, local journalists told CPJ. Mohamed's colleagues took him to a local hospital, where he is in stable condition, according to news reports. It is unclear if the attack was related to his work.
Addis Ababa, June 11, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists and the Africa Media Initiative (AMI) called for the release of journalists being held under Ethiopia's anti-terrorism laws and requested a review of those laws as they affect freedom of speech.
Joseph Mutebi, a photojournalist for the popular vernacular state-owned daily Bukedde, spent his afternoon trying to file a complaint with the police in the capital, Kampala. "First they told me the officer who assaulted me was based at another station, so I went there and now they are telling me he is based at the police station where I originally went. So I am confused. I think they are just playing with me." Mutebi's case is not uncommon--both in terms of the constant threat journalists face from Uganda's police force and the challenges they encounter trying to file a complaint.
Talking about genocide prevention in the shadow of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camps brings an intense and unique gravity to the discussions. The academic presentations cannot extract themselves from the looming presence of the barbed wires and grim towers surrounding the Nazis' most infamous death factory.
South African journalist and arts critic Charl Blignaut made what turned out to be an excellent prediction. "Of all the work on show, it's this depiction of the president that will set the most tongues wagging and most likely generate some howls of disapproval," he wrote on May 13 in a review of an art exhibition in Johannesburg.
At online discussion sites all over the world, comments are posted on the Web as soon as they are written. People argue, inform, express anger, and voice fears. Some say things in the heat of the moment that they might go on to regret. Others are elliptical and obscure. The enabling of such conversations is an important modern method of discovering and re-telling the news, and encourages previously uninvolved readers of the news to help gather and disseminate it--especially in times when traditional media is censored or afraid.
Nairobi, May 31, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes Wednesday's vote in the Malawi parliament that repealed a sweeping amendment to the country's penal code which had allowed the government to ban any news "not in the public interest."
On Sunday the general assembly of the Organization of American States will convene in Bolivia in the verdant, highland valley city of Cochabamba. The 35 member states (every nation in the region except Cuba) are expected to vote on a measure that, if passed, could curtail free expression and press throughout the hemisphere and put journalists and others at greater risk.
New York, May 30, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the campaign of harassment and intimidation against a newspaper in South Africa after it published a photo of a painting of President Jacob Zuma more than two weeks ago.
Nairobi, May 25, 2012--Police in Ethiopia today detained Peter Heinlein, a correspondent for the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Voice of America, along with Simegnish Yekoye, a freelance reporter and Heinlein's interpreter, according to Jennifer Janin, the Africa coverage editor for VOA, and local journalists.
A private university in Liberia has suspended a journalist studying there for publishing a newspaper story critical of the institution's management.
On May 8, private Cuttington University in Suacoco in central Liberia suspended Selma Lomax, a reporter with independent newspaper FrontPage Africa and a third-year student in agriculture at the institution, for four months over an April 26 story analyzing the financial struggles of the university. FrontPage Africa had previously reported on constraints plaguing the university since its founder and leading donor, the Episcopal Church of the United States, withdrew a major portion of funding. Based on interviews with university employees, Lomax's story discussed controversy over university President Henrique Tokpa, who has been accused of mismanagement and nepotism.
No other journalists are remembered quite like this. Visitors looking through the glass display at the Monsignor Romero Center & Martyrs Museum in San Salvador see the pajamas and other clothes that three Jesuit university priests were wearing when they were shot down by automatic rifle fire. A series of clear containers are filled with dark blades of grass cut from the campus lawn where each had spilled his blood.
Jeffrey Gettleman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times correspondent, says he travels with "a small militia" whenever he reports from Somalia, the East African country afflicted by armed insurgency, poverty, and hunger. As intrusive as the security detail might be, he feels far more fortunate than the local reporters who face sustained and often deadly risks, or the freelance journalists who don't have the extensive support system the Times can provide.
Gettleman spoke to a crowd of about 100 at the Half King pub in Manhattan on Tuesday in the first event in the new CPJ discussion series, "CPJ Debrief." Gettleman, the East Africa bureau chief for the Times, has worked in the region for six years. With East Africa's needs so acute, and the volume of international reporting on the decline, the assignment has given him a chance to have a profound impact.
Nairobi, May 24, 2012--Assailants in Mogadishu today gunned down the host of a critical radio program, further punctuating what has already been a deadly year for the Somali press corps and for the journalist's employer, the Shabelle Media Network.
Four unidentified men fired repeatedly at Ahmed Addow Anshur at around 1:45 this afternoon while he was in Bo'le Market, in Dharkenley District, local journalists told CPJ. Ahmed was on his way home from work, the journalists said. Eyewitnesses said that soldiers of the Somali government were in the general area of the shooting, but did nothing when the attack happened, according to local journalists. The motive for the attack was unclear, and no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Two members of the U.S. Congress, a Republican and a Democrat, have publicly voiced indignation at Ethiopia's persecution of journalists under the leadership of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, with both declaring that stability and security are enhanced by press freedom.
Because foreign journalists have been virtually banned from Syria during the uprising against Bashar al-Assad's regime, news coverage has relied heavily on citizen journalists and international reporters working with sources inside the country. Syrians who communicate with foreign news media run the risk of being threatened, detained, tortured, or even killed.
New York, May 18, 2012--Authorities in Rwanda have imprisoned a radio presenter without charge since April 24 for allegedly uttering a phrase deemed offensive to the survivors and victims of the 1994 genocide, according to local reports and local journalists.
On April 16, 2012, the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the southern border town of Beitbridge arrested Robin Hammond, a freelance photojournalist with dual U.K. and New Zealand citizenship, as he reported on migration between Zimbabwe and neighboring South Africa, government-controlled state daily The Herald reported.
New York, May 16, 2012--President Obama should acknowledge the role that independent news reporting plays in assessing agricultural challenges and facilitating the response to famine, the Committee to Protect Journalists stated in a letter to the White House. Ethiopia in particular downplays the extent of food crises and undermines the ability of donor nations and aid groups to help by denying journalists access to sensitive areas and censoring independent coverage.
New York, May 14, 2012- Togolese authorities should ensure that security forces allow journalists to do their jobs and that officers involved in acts of abuse are held to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists stated in a letter to Togo's security minister.
On May 12, 2012, intelligence agents in the capital Bamako summoned editor Biram Fall of the private biweekly Le Prétoire for interrogation, according to local news reports and Agence France-Presse.
On World Press Freedom Day last week, Nigeria's Information Minister, Labaran Maku, publicly asserted that the country's media "is one of the freest in the universe." On paper, Nigeria's 1999 Constitution guarantees the freedom of the press to "uphold...the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people." But seven journalists who attempted to put this principle to practice on World Press Freedom Day experienced a different reality -- one all too common for independent journalists working in Africa's most populated nation.
New York, May 11, 2012--Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo must immediately release two journalists who have been detained without charge since Wednesday over their story criticizing a government official, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
The guidance is hardly clear. At a Columbia University event last week pegged to the release of the new CPJ Journalist Security Guide, one journalism student said he and his classmates are getting contradictory advice. Many J-school professors, he said, have encouraged him and others to just get up, go overseas, and try to make it as a freelancer. But the experienced journalists speaking at the event advised caution.
New York, May 10, 2012--Kenyan authorities must immediately investigate recent death threats against a Kenyan journalist, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Local businessman Armstrong Pino allegedly threatened Joel Eshikumo, a reporter for the Weekly Citizen and a political columnist for the weekly Western Times, in public on Saturday over photographs the journalist had taken of him in court on April 27, local journalists told CPJ. Eshikumo told CPJ that unidentified callers had threatened him every night since Saturday, saying they would burn his house down and telling him to be prepared to die over the pictures he had taken of Pino in court.
New York, May 9, 2012--Ethiopia's main, state-owned printing company has directed newspaper publishers to censor any content that may draw government prosecution under the country's anti-terrorism law or face cancellation of their printing contracts, according to local journalists and news reports.
New York, May 8, 2012--State prosecutors requested a life sentence today for Burundian radio reporter Hassan Ruvakuki who was imprisoned after airing a November interview with a purported rebel leader, according to news reports.
Will China's quickly expanding media presence in Africa result in a fresh, alternative, and balanced perspective on the continent--much as Al-Jazeera altered the broadcast landscape with the launch of its English service in 2006--or will it be essentially an exercise in propaganda?
To commemorate World Press Freedom Day on May 3, CPJ published a list of the 10 most censored countries, citing Equatorial Guinea as the fifth worst offender. In response, the Minister of Information and government spokesperson, Jerónimo Osa Osa Ecoro, dismissed the analysis of the country's press situation as biased.
"We are going to communicate with those international media organizations who are out to destroy the image of the country," Ecoro told me last week. "They have a biased opinion of the situation in the country."
New York, May 4, 2012--An Ethiopian court has cited the editor of a leading independent newspaper for contempt after his paper published the verbatim courtroom statement made by the imprisoned journalist Eskinder Nega during his trial, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the ruling, which illustrates the growing severity of censorship in Ethiopia.
New York, May 3, 2012--Two unidentified men shot and killed Somali journalist Farhan Jeemis Abdulle on Wednesday evening as he walked home from work in Galkayo, a town in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, according to news reports.
Local journalists told CPJ that Abdulle, a producer and host at the private Radio Daljir, would often sleep at the station as a safety precaution but had decided to walk home since he had finished work early. The two assailants were waiting for the journalist near his home in Garsoor Village and shot him four times in the back and hand, news reports said.
Governments and criminal organizations are stepping up digital surveillance of journalists, but the press is not keeping pace in meeting the challenge, a panel of experts said Wednesday at an event marking the launch of the CPJ Journalist Security Guide. Reporters are using unsecure consumer electronic products for sensitive tasks such as note-taking and source management, the experts said, without sufficiently assessing the risks.
One big reason for the Internet's success is its role as a universal standard, interoperable across the world. The data packets that leave your computer in Botswana are the same as those which arrive in Barbados. The same is increasingly true of modern mobile networks. Standards are converging: You can use your phone, access an app, or send a text, wherever you are.
CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney counts down the 10 countries where the press is most tightly restricted. How do leaders in these nations silence the media? And which country is the worst of all? (4:03)
Read CPJ's report on the 10 Most Censored countries for more detail on how censorship works, and which countries were the runners-up.
As the Internet and mobile communications become more integrated into reporters' work, the digital threats to journalists' work and safety have increased as well. While many press reports have documented Internet surveillance and censorship--and the efforts to combat them--mobile communications are the new frontline for journalist security.
CPJ's Journalist Assistance Program supports journalists who cannot be helped by advocacy alone. In 2011, we assisted 171 journalists worldwide. Almost a fourth came from countries that made CPJ's Most Censored list. Eight journalists from Eritrea, five from Syria, six from Cuba, and a whopping 20 from Iran sought our help after being forced to leave their countries, having suffered the consequences of defying censorship at home.
Stop the bleeding. It's a critical and fundamental step in aiding a journalist or anyone wounded in conflict. Hemorrhage is the number one preventable death on the battlefield. And yet large numbers of journalists covering wars and political unrest all across the world are untrained in this life-saving skill. It doesn't need to be that way.
New York, April 30, 2012--Togolese police attacked and confiscated the equipment of two journalists filming an anti-government march in the capital, Lomé, on Friday. Civil society activists and human rights advocates had gathered for the demonstration on the occasion of Togo's 52nd Independence Day, local journalists said.
Mae Azango was not surprised when the Liberian police failed to help when she began receiving threats of violence in response to an article she had written about female genital cutting that was published on in FrontPage Africa on March 8. She had previously reported critically on the police, including a case of police brutality against the mother of a rape victim. "I was doing hot stories on them so they were not happy with me," Azango proudly states.
New York, April 26, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns bombings today targeting two of the offices of ThisDay newspaper in Nigeria. At least nine people were killed and more than a dozen wounded in the attacks, for which the Islamist militant sect Boko Haram claimed responsibility, according to news reports.
After the Salvadoran online newsmagazine El Faro exposed a secret government deal with criminal gangs last month, its staff faced repercussions that illustrate the new and complicated risks facing journalists worldwide. El Faro's report, which said the government provided more lenient treatment of imprisoned gangsters in exchange for the groups' agreement to slow down their murderous practices, addressed one of the most sensitive topics facing journalists today--crime and its many interconnections with government.
Journalists and bloggers in authoritarian countries have their work cut out thwarting governments that try to restrict their writing and reporting. The last thing they need to worry about is the provider of their publication platform helping authorities with censorship or surveillance. Cue the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a voluntary grouping of Internet companies, freedom of expression groups, progressive investors, and academics.
CPJ's María Salazar-Ferro names the 12 countries where journalists are murdered regularly and governments fail to solve the crimes. Where are leaders failing to uphold the law? Where are conditions getting better? And where is free expression in danger? (4:46)
New York, April 13, 2012--Kenyan authorities must investigate threats made against two journalists who covered a police raid on a supermarket, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. One of the journalists was also threatened in relation to another story he published.
While Mali remains in global headlines with a March 22 military coup and rebel claims of an independent state, citizens in Equatorial Guinea are kept in the dark about the crisis unless they have access to international media, CPJ has gathered from interviews with journalists and a government spokesman.
New York, April 6, 2012--Authorities in Somaliland must immediately release two journalists who have been detained without charge for days in apparent violation of regional law, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Liberian journalist Mae Azango's courageous reporting on female genital mutilation, which made her the target of threats and ignited international controversy, has forced her government to finally take a public position on the dangerous ritual. For the first time, Liberian officials have declared they want to stop female genital mutilation, a traditional practice passed down for generations. Involving the total or partial removal of the clitoris, the ritual is practiced by the Sande secret women's society. As many as two out of every three Liberian girls in ten out of Liberia's 16 tribes are subjected to the practice, according to news accounts.
New York, April 5, 2012--Somali authorities must immediately investigate the murder of a radio journalist who worked for the country's leading independent broadcaster and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice. Mahad Salad Adan was the fourth journalist killed in Somalia since the beginning of the year.
New York, April 4, 2012--At least 10 journalists were reported injured, several of them seriously, when a bomb ripped through Somalia's newly reopened national theater in Mogadishu, local journalists told CPJ. The blast, for which the militant insurgent group Al-Shabaab took responsibility, killed several people, including two of the nation's top sports officials, news reports said.
Last week in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, while Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was making a speech about Africa's growth potential at an African Union forum, a journalist who his administration has locked away since September on bogus terrorism charges was presenting his defense before a judge. Eskinder Nega has been one of the most outspoken critics of Meles' domestic leadership over the past two decades and has suffered imprisonment, intimidation, and censorship for it.
New York, April 2, 2012--A Ugandan reporter who was knocked off a motorcycle by a police tow truck on Saturday while covering the arrest of opposition leader Kizza Besigye has been hospitalized for his injuries, according to local journalists. He was the sixth journalist attacked by security forces in the last 10 days, according to research by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Last week's unexpected coup d'etat in Mali somewhat overshadowed, in the international news cycle, a relatively peaceful transition of power in the neighboring democracy of Senegal. In a second-round vote, opposition leader Macky Sall on Sunday defeated his former mentor, 85-year-old incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade; and while European Union observers deplored some irregularities, they largely praised the election and the Senegalese news media for a "positive role" in informing voters.
New York, March 29, 2012--Ugandan police officers attacked three journalists as they covered the release on bail of jailed opposition leader Kizza Besigye on Wednesday, according to news reports. The journalists are seeking medical treatment for their injuries.
Last week, South Sudan's ruling party secretary-general, Pagan Amum, won an important court battle, absolving him of allegations that he received a $30 million corrupt payment in 2006. The accusations came from former Finance Minister Arthur Akuien Chol, who alleged earlier this year that he had received orders from "above" to transfer the public money, according to local reports. The court acquitted Amum based on insufficient evidence. The money, however, remains unaccounted for, according to local reports. And the odds of any journalist in South Sudan investigating the matter further are slim.
New York, March 26, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Sunday's shooting of radio journalist Mohyadin Hassan Mohamed in the capital, Mogadishu, and calls on authorities to ensure his safety.
Two unknown gunmen opened fire on Mohamed, the news director of Shabelle Media Network's radio station, as he walked home from work at around 6 p.m., news reports said. The journalist told CPJ that he ran after the gunmen began shooting at him, and that one bullet grazed his chest.
Yesterday, while reporting on breaking news in Mali from studios in Atlanta, CNN Wire Newsdesk Editor Faith Karimi made an ominous observation that presaged the outcome of developments unfolding 5,000 miles away. "#Mali president @PresidenceMali has not tweeted in 10 hours after reports of gunfire and a coup attempt," she tweeted.
New York, March 21, 2012--Kenyan authorities should hold responsible police officers who assaulted three reporters last week and drop a baseless legal case against one of them, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, March 21, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns attacks by Ugandan police against two journalists in separate incidents outside of police stations today.
Veteran Somali radio journalist Hassan Mohamed, 45, died early yesterday morning in Eastleigh, a Nairobi suburb. He had fled Mogadishu in 2010, having been threatened, kidnapped, and shot twice. One of hundreds of Somali refugees in Kenya, many of them journalists, Hassan struggled to support himself and survive worsening diabetes-related ailments, despite relentless support from Somali colleagues and friends, including CPJ. His death highlights the plight of exiled journalists in East Africa.
New York, March 20, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Gabon's authorities to drop legal proceedings against six journalists in connection with articles raising questions about use of a presidential plane. Two of the journalists have fled the country fearing arrest after being summoned by police for interrogation.
Who killed Floribert Chebeya, the president of the leading DRC human rights group La Voix des Sans Voix, and his driver, Fidèle Bazana, in June 2010 in Kinshasa? A few runaway police officers, according to the military tribunal that judged the case and issued its sentences one year later. A few bad apples, who acted on their own, without any order from their hierarchy.
New York, March 19, 2012--A Nigerian journalist who has extensively covered the conflict between the government and Islamist sect Boko Haram says his life is under threat.
Ahmad Salkida, an independent journalist, told CPJ that he noticed a white 4X4 Hilux with a Lagos state registration number following him on Thursday for several hours, including to his house in Abuja, the Nigerian capital. He said he has also received phone threats from anonymous callers in the past few days that he believes are coming from government security agents in connection to his contacts with Boko Haram. "They said I am a Boko Haram member, that me and them are not supposed to exist. That they know where I live and they will visit me," Salkida told CPJ.
Last week, a judge in Senegal convicted a man of assaulting three journalists outside their newspaper's office in the capital Dakar last month. The attack was not related to journalism, but the quick arrest and prosecution of the perpetrator serves as an instructive contrast between the handling of an ordinary crime and the handling of abuses against journalists in the line of duty - cases which are usually politicized, stalled, or both.
No media outlet critical of President Bingu Wa Mutharika or the ruling Democratic Progressive Party was spared by the government this past weekend -- whether print, broadcast, or online. The broadside included a public campaign to discredit the media as well as threats of fines and arrests of critical journalists.
Dear President Johnson Sirleaf: The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by threats made against Liberian journalist Mae Azango, who has been in hiding since last week after she reported on the practice of female genital mutilation. We urge you, Madam President, as Africa's first and only female head of state and a champion of women's rights, to direct the Liberian authorities to ensure her safety and fully investigate the threats made against her.
New York, March 12, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's Angolan police raid at the independent weekly Folha 8, which was conducted in connection with a politicized investigation into the publication of a satirical photo montage. Officers confiscated all of Folha 8's computers, effectively crippling the operations of one of the country's two remaining independent publications.
New York, March 9, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Liberian authorities to ensure the safety of journalists who have been repeatedly threatened for exposing the practice of female genital mutilation in the country.
Freelance photographer Abdalla Bargash had accompanied Kenya's permanent secretary for transport, Cyrus Njiru, to cover a meeting with Lamu community members over the newly constructed Lamu port. The Kililana Farmers' Association are concerned that the major construction on the once-sleepy island of Lamu off Kenya's coast could encroach on their farmland.
New York, March 8, 2012--A vote by a commission of UNESCO's executive board to rename the discredited Obiang prize is a blow to the credibility of the organization, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Meeting in Paris, the commission voted to change the name of the prize to "International UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea Prize" and for UNESCO to move ahead with the implementation.
New York, March 8, 2012--Guinean authorities must investigate and bring appropriate charges against police officers who assaulted a journalist at the Central Bank of Guinea, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Reporter Kounkou Mara suffered head and other injuries in the attack.
Mara, a reporter for the privately owned Le Lynx, was denied entry to the Central Bank of Guinea on February 27 despite presenting her press identity card to officers and saying she was scheduled to interview the bank's governor, according to news reports. Officials told her she posed a security threat to the bank employees, then a commanding officer ordered her to be ejected, the journalist told a local newspaper.
New York, March 7, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in Togo to investigate a report that police assaulted a photojournalist on Friday after he took photos of officers seizing a motorcycle during a protest, according to media reports and local journalists.
Koffi Djidonou Frédéric Attipou, a photojournalist with the weekly Le Canard Indépendant and the biweekly magazine Sika, told CPJ he was covering a protest over government human rights violations when he turned his camera to police confiscating a demonstrator's motorcycle nearby. Togolese police, facing numerous allegations of heavy-handed and abusive tactics, have had a number of recent confrontations with journalists covering their activities, according to news accounts and CPJ research.
New York, March 5, 2012--Authorities in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in Somalia shut down an independent radio broadcaster and arrested the station's director over coverage of fighting between the government and Al-Shabaab militants, local journalists said.
Around 10:20 p.m. Saturday, armed police arriving in two vehicles raided Codka Nabadda (Voice of Peace) in the port city of Bossasso, confiscated equipment, and sealed the studios, local journalists told the Committee to Protect Journalists. An hour later, police raided the home of the station's director, Awke Abdullahi, and are holding him at the Bossasso Central Police Station. He has not been charged, although it is not legal in Puntland to hold a suspect for more than 48 hours without charge.
New York, March 5, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the murder of a former Somali journalist who was shot on Sunday in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland. The victim, Ali Ahmed Abdi, had recently resigned as a manager for a news outlet that has come under attack by Al-Shabaab insurgents.
New York, February 29, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Senegalese authorities today to thoroughly investigate recent attacks on the media and ensure that the press is able to report freely on the country's presidential election results and potential run-off. CPJ has documented at least 12 incidents of threats and physical harm against journalists reporting on the campaign, Sunday's vote, and its aftermath. Most of the incidents involved security officials or ruling party members.
New York, February 28, 2012--Unidentified gunmen today assassinated a veteran journalist who had been trying to relaunch a radio station that extremist group Al-Shabaab had shut down and looted in 2010, local journalists said.
Even as trade and new systems of communication turn us into global citizens, the information we need to ensure accountability often stops at national borders. New platforms like social media are valuable tools, but the battle against censorship is hardly over. By Joel Simon
Legislation for Internet security can quickly turn into a weapon against the free press. Cybercrime laws are intended to extend existing penal codes to the online world, but they can easily be broadened to criminalize standard journalistic practices. By Danny O'Brien
Many African leaders continue to offer a false choice between stability and press freedom. Taking a cue from China, a key investor and model, they stress social stability and development over openness and reform. By Mohamed Keita
It is not too late for justice for Francis Nyaruri, who was killed in 2009 after he wrote a story on police corruption. The murder comes against a backdrop of widespread extrajudicial killing. By Tom Rhodes with reporting from Clifford Derrick
Photographers from The Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, and other news outlets documented historic events in 2011, often at great peril. The Year in Photographs: Press Freedom in 2011 features images from the Arab uprisings, South Asia's armed conflicts, and political repression in the Americas, Africa, and Europe.
No independent press has operated in this Red Sea nation since a September 2001 government crackdown on dissent that led to the imprisonment of 11 leading journalists without charge or trial and the enforced closure of their publications. President Isaias Afewerki's administration consistently refused to account for the whereabouts, legal status, or health of the jailed journalists, or even confirm reports that some had died in custody. All of the journalists were held without access to their families or lawyers. The only media allowed to operate in the country were under the control of Information Minister Ali Abdu, who enforced rigid control of information and ideas through intimidation and imprisonment. Even state media journalists braved border guards' shoot-to-kill orders to escape the country. Government agents abroad harassed and intimidated media outlets established by exiled journalists. The government's egregious actions drew condemnation from the European Parliament in September 2011, the latest in a series of international censures.
Although official anti-press harassment continued a gradual decline from its peak after the disputed 2008 elections, a highly restrictive legal framework kept domestic, independent news sources to a mere handful. The fractious coalition between Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC failed to implement the media reforms they had pledged to undertake in their 2008 power-sharing deal, leaving in place repressive laws such as the Access to Information and Privacy Protection Act. At least six journalists faced criminal defamation charges, including two staffers from the weekly Standard who were detained after covering a politician's arrest. Assailants broke into the offices of NewsDay and Masvingo Mirror, stealing computer hard drives and storage discs. Both break-ins followed critical coverage; no suspects were arrested in either case. Fearing the influence of revolutions in North Africa, authorities detained dozens of civil society members for watching footage of the Egyptian revolution at a public gathering. The European Union named six state media journalists among 200 Zimbabweans subject to sanctions for allegedly promoting violence during the 2008 polling.
Police and security agents engaged in widespread physical attacks on local and foreign journalists during the general election campaign and its aftermath. Incumbent President Yoweri Museveni was elected to a fourth term in the February vote, which was marred by reports of intimidation and vote-buying. Reporters covering opposition candidates were at particular risk: Security agents shot two journalists covering opposition or protest rallies, leaving one reporter hospitalized. In April and May, authorities assaulted at least 25 journalists covering nationwide, opposition-organized protests over rising prices. Museveni publicly criticized foreign and local media for their coverage of the protests, saying the reports damaged the country's economic interests. Police raided the independent weekly Gwanga in May and briefly detained four journalists on the tenuous claim that its possession of a civil society newsletter could somehow incite public violence. Gwanga did not resume regular publication.
The ruling African National Congress bridled at news media scrutiny of its record on poverty, crime, and corruption, which raised concerns about the durability of post-apartheid democratic reforms. In June, the government announced a new policy to use state advertising expenditures to reward supportive media outlets. Members of the ANC's youth wing tried to intimidate media outlets that examined the affluent lifestyle and private business dealings of its fiery former leader, Julius Malema. Youth members assaulted journalists covering Malema's appearance at a party hearing convened to discuss his hard-line statements. President Jacob Zuma, who traveled to Libya twice in support of Muammar Qaddafi, was criticized for failing to hold Libyan officials accountable in the case of Anton Hammerl. Loyalist forces killed the South African photojournalist in April, but Libyan officials withheld information about Hammerl's death for many weeks. In October, South African officials acknowledged that police had tapped the phone conversations of journalists Mwazili Wa Afrika and Stephan Hofstatter. The two faced persistent threats and intimidation related to a 2010 story on police corruption. The ANC pushed several restrictive legislative measures, including a bill that would allow officials to classify virtually any piece of government information in the name of "national interest." The National Assembly approved the bill in November, sending it to the National Council of Provinces for consideration in late year.
Local and international journalists faced persistent, deadly violence, with both targeted murders and crossfire killings reported. Four soldiers with the African Union peacekeeping mission fired on a Malaysian humanitarian aid convoy in September, killing one journalist and injuring another. The AU mission in Somalia suspended the soldiers and returned them to their home country of Burundi for potential trial. Despite improved security in the capital, Mogadishu, journalists across the country continued to flee into exile to avoid threats and violence. Al-Shabaab militants and other insurgents continued to shutter independent radio stations in southern and central Somalia. Growing insecurity in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland led to increased attacks and arrests of journalists. In Somaliland, President Ahmed Mahmoud Silyano reneged on his 2010 campaign pledge to uphold press freedom and initiated a series of state-sponsored criminal defamation cases against the region's private press.
Authorities pursued an aggressive legal assault against critical journalists, using laws that ban insults against public officials and abusing anti-genocide laws to silence independent voices. President Paul Kagame’s close relations with Western governments continued to shield him from criticism over his administration’s poor press freedom record. In February, a panel of High Court judges sentenced two editors of the now-closed independent weekly Umurabyo to lengthy prison terms on charges of “genocidal ideology” related to articles detailing ethnic divisions in the security forces. In June, the Supreme Court sentenced in absentia Jean-Bosco Gasasira, editor of the independent Umuvugizi, to a prison term of two and a half years on insult charges stemming from an opinion piece that unfavorably compared Kagame to Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe. Gasasira had fled the country in 2010, joining one of the region’s largest press diasporas. Another independent weekly editor, Nelson Gatsimbazi, fled the country in September, also fearing imprisonment. The government’s aggressive actions left a subdued and largely state-dominated press landscape. A small number of critical websites remained, but they were subjected to regular government blocking.
President Bingu wa Mutharika signed a penal code amendment that allowed the government to ban any publication it deemed “not in the public interest.” Authorities did not immediately use the new tactic, but local journalists said the law’s existence had created a chilling effect. Government officials also made use of court injunctions to silence critical coverage of public officials’ financial dealings. Authorities and ruling party supporters pushed back aggressively against coverage of nationwide protests over rising fuel costs and diminishing bank reserves: Police and security officers beat and detained journalists; the government blocked the transmissions of four private radio stations; and suspected ruling party supporters damaged two vehicles belonging to the private Zodiac Broadcasting Corp. The managers of a critical online news outlet, Nyasa Times, said they experienced a denial-of-service attack that took down their website during the protests.
After the disputed November 2010 presidential elections, incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and rival Alassane Ouattara, whom the United Nations recognized as the winner, waged a months-long struggle for power led by partisan media outlets. The fight was centered in the economic capital, Abidjan, where Gbagbo controlled the national media and security forces. Ouattara enjoyed the support of a handful of newspapers and set up an improvised television station in the hotel where he was protected by U.N. peacekeepers. Both sides targeted rival outlets with reprisals, forcing numerous journalists into hiding. A journalist and a media worker were murdered in the violence. Fighters loyal to Ouattara clashed with Gbagbo troops for control of the national public broadcaster Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivoirienne in March and April, damaging studios and transmitters and knocking the station off the air, according to news reports and local journalists. While media movements were limited during the final battle for Abidjan, some citizen journalists provided exclusive footage of explosions and military operations by posting unedited videos on social media. With Gbagbo's April 11 capture, Ouattara assumed power and promised reconciliation, but his administration jailed a pro-Gbagbo TV host on antistate charges and his forces ransacked and occupied media outlets loyal to the former president. Journalists seen as sympathetic to Gbagbo faced continued harassment.
Years of brutal repression by President Yahya Jammeh’s administration have gutted Gambia’s once-vibrant independent press and driven numerous journalists into exile. In August, the government forced Taranga FM, the last independent radio station airing news in local languages, to halt its coverage. The move came ahead of an October presidential election in which Jammeh faced no viable opponent and brooked no dissent. Official repression has taken many forms over the years, including arbitrary arrests, censorship, forced closures of media outlets, verbal and physical intimidation, arson attacks, and prosecutions under restrictive legislation. These actions, coupled with impunity in attacks on media houses and journalists, have reduced the domestic news media to a handful of newspapers that operate under intense fear and self-censorship. While marketing the country internationally as an idyllic tourism destination, the government ignored two rulings by a West African human rights court: one ordering the release of reporter “Chief” Ebrima Manneh, who disappeared in state custody after his 2006 arrest, and another compelling the government to pay compensation to a journalist for illegal detention and torture.
News and information was tightly controlled in Equatorial Guinea, which CPJ identified as one of the world’s most censored nations. Nearly all news media were owned and run by the government or its allies. One independently owned newspaper circulated in the country, but had to practice self-censorship; no independent broadcasters operated domestically. Even in this rigid environment, authorities fearful of the implications of Arab unrest censored news coverage of the protests. President Teodoro Obiang continued efforts to alter his international image, assuming presidency of the African Union and reviving his effort to establish an “Obiang Prize” in life sciences under the auspices of UNESCO. For the second time, UNESCO suspended consideration of the prize after a global campaign by human rights and freedom of expression groups. As he marked his 32 years in power, Obiang declared there were “no” human rights violations in his country. But his administration suspended a state radio presenter for a mere reference to a “leader of the Libyan revolution.” Authorities also urged the owners of television sets in public places not to show international satellite channels covering the Arab unrest, according to local journalists. Security agents detained a German TV crew and deleted footage of an interview with an opposition leader and pictures of children playing in slums.
Incumbent Joseph Kabila claimed victory in a November presidential election marred by widespread voting irregularities and a spike in attacks on news outlets. While international observers questioned the results, Kabila forces launched a crackdown on dissent. Attacks on the press were concentrated in the capital, Kinshasa, and surrounding Bas Congo province. Supporters of incumbent President Joseph Kabila's PPRD party and his administration intimidated journalists favorable to chief rival Etienne Tshisekedi; pro-opposition media were targeted in a series of arson attacks. In August, Kabila consolidated his grip on the media by appointing members of a new regulatory board charged with enforcing press laws and meting out penalties. Journalists criticized Kabila for stacking the 15-member agency with government allies, according to news reports. Across the vast nation, powerful local officials and their security forces carried out attacks on the press with impunity in reprisal for critical coverage. And in the country's strife-torn, mineral-rich east, a journalist was murdered amid murky circumstances.
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.
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.
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.
I must have received at least a dozen communications from worried friends and colleagues, asking the whereabouts of the chief editor of the highly critical Rwandan website, Umuvugizi. By mid-January, no one had heard from John Bosco Gasasira, nothing new had been published on Umuvugizi since January 11, and his cell phones were switched off. Last week, concerned colleagues wrote a public letter expressing concern over their missing colleague.
February is the hottest month in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, and Mading Ngor, a reporter and presenter for the Catholic-owned Bakhita FM, trudged his way through the heat to cover parliament proceedings last week--only to be thrown unceremoniously out of the assembly. "Before I had time to argue, four security guards pinned me to the ground and dragged me across the floor, tearing up my trousers," Ngor, a hard-hitting, critical journalist, told me.
Good news for Gambia's beleaguered independent press has been rare during President Yahya Jammeh's 17-year rule, but last week brought three potentially positive developments. It's unclear whether they mark a real change in the status quo, but they may at least increase the resolve of advocacy groups to seek improvements.
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.
Seated near the fireplace in a historical home in Tournai, a medieval town 70 miles from Brussels and a stone's throw from the French border, while snow fell outside, Solange Lusiku Nsimire was enjoying not only the company of friends, but the chance to live for a few days without fearing suspicious noises in the garden or ominous knocks on the door.
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.
Last week, Twitter provoked a fierce debate online when it announced a new capability--and related policy--to hide tweets on a country-specific basis. By building this feature into its website's basic code, Twitter said it hoped to offer a more tailored response to legal demands to remove tweets globally. The company will inform users if any tweet they see has been obscured, and provide a record of all demands to remove content with the U.S.-based site chillingeffects.org.
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.
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.
New York, January 25, 2012--Ugandan authorities must hold to account members of security forces who fired Tuesday on a photojournalist covering their attack on the motorcade of opposition leader Kizza Besigye, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, January 25, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in the Central African Republic to immediately release a newspaper editor imprisoned since January 16 and to drop a politicized prosecution that stems from the paper's critical coverage of a presidential relative who also serves as the government's finance minister.
New York, January 25, 2012--Jailed Ethiopian dissident blogger Eskinder Nega will stand trial in March for all of the terrorism accusations initially advanced by prosecutors, a federal high court judge ruled yesterday, local sources said. If convicted on all charges, he could face the death penalty.
Ugandan police have shuttered 13 broadcasters since December, accusing them of misusing power supplies and equipment belonging to the state-run Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC). The widespread allegations of corrupt deals between the state broadcaster and ostensibly private stations reveal more than illicit transactions--they expose a lack of independence within Uganda's broadcast sector.
New York, January 20, 2012--A television reporter covering the aftermath of coordinated terrorist attacks in northern Nigeria was gunned down this afternoon, according to local journalists and news reports.
New York, January 20, 2012--Two Senegalese journalists with the private daily Le Quotidien were handed suspended prison sentences this week in a criminal libel case over their coverage of an armed insurgency in a separatist province, according to news reports.
New York, January 19, 2012--Two journalists and a U.S.-based blogger who was tried in absentia were convicted on charges of terrorism in Ethiopia today and could be sentenced to the death penalty, according to news reports.
New York, January 17, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the deteriorating press conditions in the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland after this weekend's detention of 21 journalists protesting a police raid on a private broadcaster.
Protesters in Nigeria are not only angry at their government's New Year's Day decision to eliminate a fuel subsidy -- they are also upset about news media coverage of the citizens' movement, dubbed "Occupy Nigeria," and have taken their protests to local media outlets.
It would be hard to find a better symbol of media repression in Africa than Eskinder Nega. The veteran Ethiopian journalist and dissident blogger has been detained at least seven times by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's government over the past two decades, and was put back in jail on September 14, 2011, after he published a column calling for the government to respect freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and to end torture in prisons.
New York, January 13, 2012---Authorities in Ghana should launch a thorough and transparent investigation into reports that state security agents on Thursday brutalized a photojournalist covering the high-profile court case of a senior police official, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, January 13, 2012-- The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the recent spate of arrests of independent reporters in the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland.
New York, January 10, 2012--Police in Gambia are harassing a journalist for reporting farmers' complaints against a local official accused of mismanaging public resources, according to local journalists and news reports.
On January 8, 1912, South African intellectuals--including pioneering black newspaper publishers Pixley ka Isaka Seme, editor of Abantu-Batho, and John Langalibalele Dube, editor of Ilanga lase Natal--formed Africa's oldest liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC), in the Wesleyan Church in Bloemfontein.
New York, January 5, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes Friday's decision by a judge in Abidjan to release on bail former Ivorian state television presenter Hermann Aboa and calls on prosecutors to drop the politicized charges against him.
New York, January 5, 2012--The government of Gabon, led by President Ali Bongo, on Tuesday imposed suspensions on a TV station and a newspaper for coverage of opposition leader André Mba Obame, according to local journalists and news reports.
New York, January 4, 2012--Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo shut down broadcasts of the French government-funded Radio France Internationale over its coverage of the aftermath of the November 2011 presidential elections, news reports said.
Just over 55 years ago, on New Year's Eve 1957, trailblazing South African journalist Henry Nxumalo was murdered while investigating suspicious deaths at an abortion clinic in Sophiatown, a suburb west of Johannesburg.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.