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."

2015
Cándido Figueredo Ruíz (Paraguay), Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (Syria), Zone 9 Bloggers (Ethiopia), Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque,“Zunar” (Malaysia)

2014
Aung Zaw (Burma), Siamak Ghaderi (Iran), Mikhail Zygar (Russia), Ferial Haffajee (South Africa)

2013
Janet Hinostroza (Ecuador), Bassem Youssef (Egypt), Nedim Şener (Turkey), Nguyen Van Hai (Vietnam)

2012
Mauri König (Brazil), Dhondup Wangchen (China), Azimjon Askarov (Krygyzstan), Mae Azango (Liberia)

2011
Mansoor al-Jamri (Bahrain), Natalya Radina (Belarus), Javier Valdez Cárdenas (Mexico), Umar Cheema (Pakistan)

2010
Mohammad Davari (Iran), Nadira Isayeva (Russia), Dawit Kebede (Ethiopia), Laureano Márquez (Venezuela)

2009
Mustafa Haji Abdinur (Somalia), Naziha Réjiba (Tunisia), Eynulla Fatullayev (Azerbijan), J.S. Tissainayagam (Sri Lanka)

2008
Bilal Hussein (Iraq), Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad (Afghanistan), Andrew Mwenda (Uganda), Hector Maseda Gutiérrez (Cuba)

2007
Dmitry Muratov (Russia), Mazhar Abbas (Pakistan), Adela Navarro Bello (Mexico), Gao Qinrong (China)

2006
Jesús Abad Colorado (Colombia), Jamal Amer (Yemen), Madi Ceesay (The Gambia), Atwar Bahjat (Iraq)

2005
Galima Bukharbaeva (Uzbekistan), Beatrice Mtetwa (Zimbabwe), Lúcio Flávio Pinto (Brazil), Shi Tao (China)

2004
Svetlana Kalinkina (Belarus), Aung Pwint and Thaung Tun (Burma), Alexis Sinduhije (Burundi), Paul Klebnikov (United States)

2003
Abdul Samay Hamed (Afghanistan), Aboubakr Jamai (Morocco), Musa Muradov (Russia), Manuel Vázquez Portal (Cuba)

2002
Ignacio Gómez (Colombia), Tipu Sultan (Bangladesh), Irina Petrushova (Kazakhstan), Fesshaye Yohannes (Eritrea)

2001
Jiang Weiping (China), Geoff Nyarota (Zimbabwe), Horacio Verbitsky (Argentina), Mazen Dana (West Bank)

2000
Zeljko Kopanja (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Modeste Mutinga (DRC), Steven Gan (Malaysia), Mashallah Shamsolvaezin (Iran)

1999
Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández (Cuba), Baton Haxhiu (Kosovo), Jugnu Mohsin and Najam Sethi (Pakistan), María Cristina Caballero (Columbia)

1998
Grémah Boucar (Niger), Gustavo Gorriti (Panama), Pavel Sheremet (Belarus), Ruth Simon (Eritrea)

1997
Viktor Ivancic (Croatia), Freedom Neruda (Ivory Coast), Christine Anyanwu (Nigeria). Ying Chan (United States) and Shieh Chung-Liang (Taiwan)

1996
Ocak Isik Yurtçu (Turkey), Daoud Kuttab (Palestinian Authority), J. Jesus Blancornelas (Mexico), Yusuf Jameel (India)