International Press Freedom Awards

Andrew Mwenda, Founder and Managing Editor, The Independent

Andrew Mwenda, one of Uganda's leading political journalists, is managing editor of the bimonthly newsmagazine, The Independent, based in the capital, Kampala. A press freedom advocate throughout his career, Mwenda founded The Independent in 2008 despite repeated government harassment. Over the past decade, he has been the target of threats, arrests, and criminal prosecutions for his radio, television, and newspaper work. 

Mwenda is among the few journalists to openly criticize President Yoweri Museveni's spending practices and handling of a rebel conflict in the country's north. Museveni's administration has a record of using criminal laws and police intimidation to silence such critical coverage.

In April 2008, plainclothes security agents raided Mwenda's home and offices, arresting him on sedition charges stemming from an Independent interview with an army deserter who accused the military of human rights abuses. In May, police summoned him again for questioning about three newspaper stories and a broadcast commentary. In all, Mwenda is fighting 21 criminal charges, including sedition and "promoting sectarianism," some of which date back to 2000. He has challenged the constitutionality of the charges.

Mwenda has addressed the World Bank and Transparency International about the need to reform Western aid to Africa, and he has produced documentaries and commentary for the BBC on economic empowerment. He is a 2007 Knight Fellow and the recipient of several national awards.

Click here to view Andrew's video from the 2008 IPFA dinner.

Here are some background links:

The Independent

Andrew Mwenda launched The Independent after resigning as political editor from his previous post at The Monitor.  Arguing that the government had compromised the editorial freedom of The Monitor, Mwenda's own publication provides a candid and critical approach.

BBC News: Mwenda on Africa aid and debt

In 2005, Mwenda wrote an article for the BBC entitled "Africans on Africa: Debt."  Mwenda's thought-provoking piece argues that "[f]oreign aid does not help the poor out of their misery - it exacerbates their problems and prolongs their agony."

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Aung Zaw (Burma), Siamak Ghaderi (Iran), Mikhail Zygar (Russia), Ferial Haffajee (South Africa)

Janet Hinostroza (Ecuador), Bassem Youssef (Egypt), Nedim Şener (Turkey), Nguyen Van Hai (Vietnam)

Mauri König (Brazil), Dhondup Wangchen (China), Azimjon Askarov (Krygyzstan), Mae Azango (Liberia)

Mansoor al-Jamri (Bahrain), Natalya Radina (Belarus), Javier Valdez Cárdenas (Mexico), Umar Cheema (Pakistan)

Mohammad Davari (Iran), Nadira Isayeva (Russia), Dawit Kebede (Ethiopia), Laureano Márquez (Venezuela)

Mustafa Haji Abdinur (Somalia), Naziha Réjiba (Tunisia), Eynulla Fatullayev (Azerbijan), J.S. Tissainayagam (Sri Lanka)

Bilal Hussein (Iraq), Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad (Afghanistan), Andrew Mwenda (Uganda), Hector Maseda Gutiérrez (Cuba)

Dmitry Muratov (Russia), Mazhar Abbas (Pakistan), Adela Navarro Bello (Mexico), Gao Qinrong (China)

Jesús Abad Colorado (Colombia), Jamal Amer (Yemen), Madi Ceesay (The Gambia), Atwar Bahjat (Iraq)

Galima Bukharbaeva (Uzbekistan), Beatrice Mtetwa (Zimbabwe), Lúcio Flávio Pinto (Brazil), Shi Tao (China)

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Abdul Samay Hamed (Afghanistan), Aboubakr Jamai (Morocco), Musa Muradov (Russia), Manuel Vázquez Portal (Cuba)

Ignacio Gómez (Colombia), Tipu Sultan (Bangladesh), Irina Petrushova (Kazakhstan), Fesshaye Yohannes (Eritrea)

Jiang Weiping (China), Geoff Nyarota (Zimbabwe), Horacio Verbitsky (Argentina), Mazen Dana (West Bank)

Zeljko Kopanja (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Modeste Mutinga (DRC), Steven Gan (Malaysia), Mashallah Shamsolvaezin (Iran)

Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández (Cuba), Baton Haxhiu (Kosovo), Jugnu Mohsin and Najam Sethi (Pakistan), María Cristina Caballero (Columbia)

Grémah Boucar (Niger), Gustavo Gorriti (Panama), Pavel Sheremet (Belarus), Ruth Simon (Eritrea)

Viktor Ivancic (Croatia), Freedom Neruda (Ivory Coast), Christine Anyanwu (Nigeria). Ying Chan (United States) and Shieh Chung-Liang (Taiwan)

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