Africa / 2013

CPJ Blog

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Reporting on South Sudan crisis difficult, dangerous

December 23, 2013 2:52 PM ET

"They even started shooting through my house--I had to lie on the floor with my wife and kids," Angelo Wello, a freelance journalist for faith-based news sites and a pastor, told me. Like many residents of the capital of Juba, South Sudan, Angelo has found it incredibly hard to...

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Defining success in the fight against impunity

December 13, 2013 5:24 PM ET

For the second time this year, the U.N. Security Council took up the issue of protection of journalists. In a discussion today sponsored by the French and Guatemalan delegations, and open to NGOs, speaker after speaker and country after country hammered home the same essential facts: The vast majority of...

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Uganda: Block the opposition and block the press

December 11, 2013 4:51 PM ET

Getting rid of an influential opposition figure is a simple two-step process for Uganda's ruling party, the National Resistance Movement: Dismiss the opponent and ensure the press cannot cover it....

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Take this survey on digital safety, then take these steps

December 4, 2013 4:31 PM ET

It is an extraordinarily difficult time to be a journalist. Nearly every month, the digital security landscape shifts--new surveillance concerns are unearthed and freshly drafted laws are introduced that seek to curb freedom of expression under the guise of national security....

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Kenya's press takes to the streets against bill

December 3, 2013 3:49 PM ET

"Mr. President, you gagged us!" said a banner tied to the gates of Parliament today. Kenya's Editors Guild and the Kenya Correspondents' Association organized peaceful demonstrations across the country to protest a media bill currently under parliamentary review. Protests were held in every county in the country, according to...

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After UN resolution on impunity, more work to be done

December 3, 2013 11:23 AM ET

For all the people who have been working on the problem of impunity for so long, the announcement on November 26 that the Third Committee of the United Nation's General Assembly had passed a resolution on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, setting November 2 as the...

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Interactive Timeline: 12 months of impunity at a glance

November 22, 2013 5:29 PM ET

In December 2012, the Committee to Protect Journalists and 27 partner organizations launched Speak Justice: Voices against Impunity as part of an international effort to seek justice for the hundreds of journalists who have been murdered around the world. Today, on International Day to End Impunity, we are taking a...

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Journalists can help curb gender-based violence

November 22, 2013 10:06 AM ET

Training journalists how to better cover gender-based violence can help challenge attitudes that foster sexual attacks. Helping journalists learn personal skills to safely navigate sexual aggression can help prevent them from becoming victims themselves....

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Training can help journalists survive captivity

November 6, 2013 2:30 PM ET

Two murdered journalists for the Africa service of Radio France Internationale, Ghislaine Dupont, 51, and Claude Verlon, 58, might have had a chance. They were abducted on November 2 in Kidal in northern Mali, but the vehicle their captors were driving suddenly broke down, according to news reports....

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Just the fear of draconian press laws is enough

November 5, 2013 3:29 PM ET

Few in Kenya's media could comprehend how a media bill, considered the most repressive in Kenya's 50-year history, could sail so easily through Parliament last week. Fittingly, Parliament passed the Kenya Information and Communications Amendment Bill on Halloween. It is awaiting President Uhuru Kenyatta's signature following a 14- day...

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Shabelle off air and staff evicted, fearing for safety

October 30, 2013 10:49 AM ET

The young staff members of Radio Shabelle, whose offices were in the relatively safe section of Mogadishu next to the airport, are no longer feeling safe.  On Saturday, while presenters were on the air, heavily armed security forces raided the Shabelle offices and arrested the three-dozen staff members at...

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Somalia, it's time for action

October 25, 2013 2:41 PM ET

On the morning of Tuesday, October 22, 2013, Somali television journalist Mohamed Mohamud, nicknamed "Tima'ade," was seriously wounded when unknown armed men attacked him on his way home from work. He was shot more than five times. Colleagues and local residents in Wadajir district, where the attack took place, immediately...

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Kenyan police threaten press -- Press fights back!

October 24, 2013 6:06 PM ET

On Wednesday, David Kimaiyo, Kenya's inspector general of police, launched a tirade at the Kenyan press, threatening to arrest and prosecute two journalists for their coverage of the Westgate Mall rescue operation....

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Duping pirates and endangering journalists

October 17, 2013 12:09 PM ET

It could have been the script for a John Le Carré intrigue. On Saturday October 12, Belgian security agents arrested Mohamed Abdi Hassan, a kingpin of Somali piracy known as "Afweyne" (Big Mouth), and his associate Mohammed M. Aden, nicknamed Tiiceey, a former governor of Himan and Heeb province....

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Africa's journalists honor jailed editor Woubshet Taye

October 15, 2013 11:58 AM ET

Journalists and media owners across Africa gave Ethiopian journalist Woubshet Taye a standing ovation in Cape Town on Saturday night at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2013, but he wasn't there to see it. Instead his wife and son accepted the Free Press Award on his behalf. Part...

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Westgate siege shows press' lack of security training

October 9, 2013 10:41 AM ET

Rumor had it that thieves and police had exchanged gunfire during the robbery of a bank at the Westgate Mall. That was the word that first reached some Nairobi newsrooms that Saturday about the gunshots many Kenyans heard coming from the luxurious shopping mall....

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Sakharov and the fight for a free press in Ethiopia

September 27, 2013 3:56 PM ET

In 1968, Andrei Sakharov braved censorship and personal risk in the Soviet Union to give humanity an honest and timeless declaration of conscience. That same year, Ethiopia's most prominent dissenter, Eskinder Nega, was born. In January 1981, a year into Sakharov's exile in the closed city of Gorky, Reeyot...

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Covering Westgate

September 25, 2013 4:59 PM ET

The jumpy, cell phone clips of journalists and security officers crouching outside the upscale Westgate Shopping Mall in the capital, Nairobi, permeated the TV screens across Kenya for four days. Edgy local and foreign reporters hid behind vehicles as gunfire shots, repeated explosions and smoke emanated from a supermarket...

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Q&A: Hubaal's editor talks about press in Somaliland

August 28, 2013 11:26 AM ET

Hubaal, Somaliland's critical and much-beleaguered daily newspaper, is back on newsstands after a presidential pardon last week. The paper was shuttered on orders of the attorney general in June without explanation. In April, two gunmen, subsequently identified by authorities as police officers, raided the office of Hubaal and attacked...

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Zambia silences critics with lawsuits, Web blocking

August 23, 2013 1:35 PM ET

The charges leveled against a Zambian journalist suspected by authorities of being linked to the blocked news website Zambian Watchdog make for interesting reading....

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Only due process, transparency will end Somali impunity

August 19, 2013 7:13 PM ET

Last week, as Egypt plunged deeper into political violence, CPJ recorded a sad statistic: the death of the 1,000th journalist in the line of duty since we began keeping records in 1992. While that benchmark death came amid a military raid, seven out of 10 killed journalists were in fact...

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1,000 deaths: Journalists who gave their lives

August 15, 2013 10:01 AM ET

When Mick Deane was killed in Egypt on Wednesday, he became the 1,000th journalist documented by CPJ as having died in direct relation to his work. The photos above, a sampling of those who have died over the past 21 years, serve as a powerful reminder of the cost...

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SABC keeps lid on 'Project Spear' documentary

August 2, 2013 2:39 PM ET

The South African Broadcasting Corporation is in the news for not airing a politically sensitive documentary that details allegations of apartheid-era theft of public funds. The public broadcaster, which had commissioned the film, has also refused to sell the rights back to the filmmaker and has filed a lawsuit...

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Filmmaker's arrest signals limits to Uganda coverage

August 1, 2013 4:53 PM ET

Taylor Krauss, an American journalist, freelance filmmaker, and founder of the testimonial website Voices of Rwanda, traveled to Uganda roughly two weeks ago to conduct some filming in hopes of pitching footage later to various media outlets. Krauss is no stranger to the region; he has been traveling back...

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Jailed Burkinabe journalist appeals to African Court

July 29, 2013 3:19 PM ET

Journalist Lohé Issa Konaté has been imprisoned in Burkina Faso since he was convicted in October of criminal defamation over articles in private weekly L'Ouragan alleging corruption and abuse of power at the office of the public prosecutor. In May, an appeals court rejected his appeal and upheld the 12-month...

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Q&A: Zenzele Ndebele promotes radio in Zimbabwe

July 29, 2013 1:30 PM ET

With Zimbabwe elections days away, the fight over access to the airwaves has intensified. The media environment has loosened slightly compared with previous years, but most Zimbabweans still lack access to independent sources of news, including radio. One person familiar with obstacles to broadcasting is Zenzele Ndebele, editor of...

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After Security Council, what next for journalist safety?

July 23, 2013 4:57 PM ET

Speaking at a U.N. Security Council discussion about the protection of journalists, Associated Press Executive Editor and CPJ Vice Chair Kathleen Carroll remembered the 31 AP journalists who have died reporting the news and whose names grace the Wall of Honor that visitors pass as they enter the agency's...

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Surveillance detection for journalists in the field

July 22, 2013 8:22 AM ET

Much has been made recently about the digital surveillance of journalists--and rightly so--but physical surveillance remains a key tactic of security forces, law enforcement, and private entities. These operatives are monitoring journalists, gathering intelligence on them, and potentially obstructing journalists' work or putting them at risk....

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As Zimbabwe vote nears, state media drown out others

July 19, 2013 12:25 PM ET

When Star-FM launched on June 25, 2012, it was the first time in 30 years that Zimbabweans, who have known no other radio besides the state-controlled Radio Zimbabwe, had the chance to call in to a radio station to express their views. ...

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Burkina Faso state media journalists protest censorship

July 16, 2013 2:25 PM ET

In Burkina Faso, tens of journalists from state media today held a sit-in in front of the Ministry of Communications in the capital Ouagadougou to protest what they deem to be excessive government censorship of news coverage....

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A bid to rid Africa of criminal defamation, sedition laws

July 12, 2013 3:48 PM ET

The African Union's special rapporteur on freedom of expression and access to information, Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, has launched an auspicious initiative in East Africa to counter criminal defamation and sedition laws. Since independence, authorities and business interests in the East and Horn region have used criminal laws on sedition, libel,...

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Exiled journalists in risky places need helping hand

June 19, 2013 12:00 AM ET

It was well past mid-day in Eastleigh, a shanty district on the east side of Nairobi, Kenya. The billows of dust rising from the rock-scarred road showed a government that had long lost interest in the neighborhood. A young man, struggling with horribly dry conditions, was fighting with his...

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In revolt, freelancers establish Frontline Freelance Register

June 12, 2013 5:03 PM ET

Finally, there is an organization for freelancers run by freelancers, and it could not come at a more opportune time. As anyone who has been one knows, being a freelance conflict reporter, in particular, can be tricky business....

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Kenyan journalists kicked out of Parliament media center

June 10, 2013 3:39 PM ET

News coverage of the Kenyan Parliament elected in March 2013 is off to a rocky start. The press last week was kicked out of the media center in the National Assembly, and although the speaker tried to make assurances that overall access won't be affected, journalists are wary....

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Siege over, but damage to Ugandan press may last

June 7, 2013 4:13 PM ET

Journalists are back to work at Uganda's leading privately owned daily, The Monitor, after a 10-day siege of their newsroom by police. But that does not mean it is business as usual for the nation's press. The paper's owners at the Nation Media Group evidently begged and negotiated for...

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Investigative journalist under threat again in Angola

June 6, 2013 12:24 PM ET

The Angolan government has brought criminal charges against journalist Rafael Marques de Morais for his book, Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola, published in Portugal in 2011, that documented allegations of homicides, torture, forced displacement of civilian settlements, and intimidation of inhabitants of the diamond-mining areas of the country's...

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Photographers attacked: Two weeks in southern Africa

June 5, 2013 12:39 PM ET

From Cape Town to Lilongwe, four photographers on routine news assignments in major southern Africa cities were assaulted by security officials in the past two weeks. The details differ, but the heavy-handed actions in each case reflect a belief among those responsible for security that they are above the...

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Bheki Makhubu raises freedom flag in Swaziland

May 31, 2013 10:30 AM ET

After high school, Bhekitemba Makhubu's father wanted him to study for a law degree. He refused, insisting on following in his father's footsteps as a journalist. Now, aged 43, he doesn't regret his choice, but besides his job as editor of the privately owned monthly magazine, The Nation, he...

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Press freedom: Challenge of changing words into deeds

May 28, 2013 11:53 AM ET

The Pan African Parliament's (PAP) launch of a media freedom campaign through a "Dialogue on Media Freedom in Africa" in mid-May marks an important and welcome starting point. For too long, media freedom has been divorced from the debate around development and democratization when it has an integral role...

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Medill digital security guide helps fill journalism void

May 23, 2013 1:59 PM ET

One day, every journalism school in the United States and beyond will offer a full three-credit, 15-week course in digital safety, along with more advanced classes. But that day has not yet come. Only a year ago, Alysia Santo reported in the Columbia Journalism Review that no American journalism...

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Facebook joins Global Network Initiative

May 22, 2013 12:00 PM ET

With more than a billion users, Facebook is not only the biggest global social network but also an increasingly important forum for journalists. In some repressive countries it has even served as a publishing platform for journalists whose newspapers or news websites have been closed down. That is why...

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Q&A with an editor of South Sudan's Juba Monitor

May 22, 2013 11:49 AM ET

Police arbitrarily arrested Michael Koma, the managing editor of South Sudan's daily Juba Monitor, on May 2 and detained him for four days following the publication of an article critical of the deputy security minister. A veteran journalist, Koma has experienced firsthand the poor state of press freedom within Africa's...

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Kenyan press face hostile work environment, study finds

May 15, 2013 10:17 AM ET

The working environment for journalists and media workers in Kenya is increasingly hostile, with at least 91 percent of journalists at local media outlets having faced security threats in the course of their work, a new study has revealed. The harassment of and attacks against journalists, with nearly 40 percent...

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In Uganda, media muzzled over alleged Muhoozi project

May 15, 2013 10:07 AM ET

While Uganda's politicians and social media are abuzz over a sensational letter reportedly written by a top security official about a high-level assassination plot, police have dutifully harassed the mainstream press in a bid to suppress the chatter....

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Liberian press boycotts Sirleaf over aide's comments

May 14, 2013 5:14 PM ET

Most governments, even repressive ones, at least give lip service to supporting freedom of the press--especially on World Press Freedom Day, May 3. But in Liberia this month, Othello Daniel Warrick, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's chief security aide, shocked local journalists by threatening them and calling them "terrorists" at...

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Nigeria's impunity ranking: The facts don't lie

May 3, 2013 5:35 PM ET

Nigeria's press freedom record is on the decline. For the first time since 2008, when CPJ began publishing its annual Impunity Index, Nigeria has made the list of the "worst nations in the world for deadly, unpunished violence against the press."...

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Burundi reporter shot by police for seeking information

May 3, 2013 5:21 PM ET

Burundi's government took unusually swift action last week in response to the police shooting of a radio reporter, after the journalist sought information at a roadblock in the capital Bujumbura where market vendors were allegedly being "taxed" for passage. Perhaps the shooting could have been averted if authorities had...

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In Index, a pattern of death, a roadmap for solutions

May 2, 2013 3:50 PM ET

Gerardo Ortega's news and talk show on DWAR in Puerto Princesa, Philippines, went off as usual on the morning of January 24, 2011. Ortega, like many radio journalists in the Philippines, was outspoken about government corruption, particularly as it concerned local mining issues. His show over, Ortega left the...

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In 2 major efforts, journalist security tailored to fit

April 30, 2013 11:18 AM ET

In the past, donors and groups providing security to journalists in less-developed nations tended to export a Western, military-style of training designed for a war-time environment. But the danger of covering combat is one thing. Being fired upon by a motorcycle-riding assassin is another--as is being sexually molested in...

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So your Twitter account is hacked? Reset, tweet, pray.

April 24, 2013 3:07 PM ET

That is a bogus @ap tweet.-- AP CorpComm (@AP_CorpComm) April 23, 2013 More than a quarter million Twitter accounts have been hacked worldwide, the social media company disclosed in February, but Tuesday's attack on The Associated Press's verified account, @AP, had unusual effect. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 143...

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In Somalia, the mysterious case of Rahmo Abdulkadir

April 23, 2013 9:22 AM ET

It seemed clear-cut and sadly familiar: A journalist was shot and killed while walking in Mogadishu, one of the deadliest places in the world for the press. Yet in the four weeks that have passed since those initial reports from international and local news agencies--accounts that were then amplified by...

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UN panel: Eskinder Nega jailing violates international law

April 5, 2013 2:35 PM ET

Authorities in Ethiopia describe Eskinder Nega, a prominent columnist and government critic jailed since September 2011 on vague terrorism charges, as a dangerous individual bent on violent revolution. However, in an opinion handed down in 2012--publicized only this week by Washington, D.C.-based legal advocacy group Freedom Now--a United Nations...

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CPJ launches Somali Security Guide

April 1, 2013 1:01 PM ET

Last week, two gunmen waited near the home of a young Somali journalist, Rahmo Abdulkadir, who had recently returned to the capital from the Galgadud district in central Somalia where she worked as a reporter for Radio Abudwaq (Worshipper). According to local journalists, 25-year-old Rahmo had just left an Internet...

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Zimbabwe frees prominent lawyer Mtetwa on bail

March 25, 2013 3:59 PM ET

Beatrice Mtetwa, a tenacious lawyer who has won accolades for stubbornly defending journalists and others persecuted by Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe, regained her freedom today after a hellish week that began on March 17 when she was arrested and charged with the criminal offense of "defeating or obstructing...

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Jubilation, then tragedy, for Mogadishu press this week

March 22, 2013 3:59 PM ET

"He's free! He's free!" a friend of mine from Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, shouted down the phone line on Sunday. For a fleeting second I did not know whom he referred to, given the high number of journalists imprisoned in the Horn region of Africa--but then it dawned on me:...

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New challenges for local and foreign press in Kenya

March 21, 2013 10:47 AM ET

Kenya has passed peacefully through its election period, but questions still hang over the legitimacy of presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta's victory--as well as over the future of the country's media coverage. During polling, challenges arose for both local and international media, and they have not subsided. For the foreign...

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Portuguese media chilled by Angolan involvement

March 20, 2013 2:44 PM ET

Portuguese journalists are increasingly concerned by Angola's growing investment and influence in their country. Buoyed by petrodollars and diamonds, powerful Angolan interests have been indulging in a buying spree in their former colonial power. Angolan capital invested in Portugal increased 35 times in the past decade, according to news...

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In Mali, one journalist's detention ignites press revolution

March 14, 2013 5:04 PM ET

Mali's press has endured one attack too many. Since the coup d'état of March 22, 2012, CPJ has documented a staggering 62 anti-press violations across Mali. Journalists and media houses have become ready targets of attacks, threats, intimidation, assassination attempts, arbitrary arrests, detentions, and censorship by separatist and Islamist...

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In tense climate, Kenyan press can draw on solidarity

March 11, 2013 3:57 PM ET

Amid a tense presidential election, Kenyans have avoided a repeat of the deadly violence that followed the vote in 2007, when half a million people were uprooted and more than 1,000 people were killed. Still, the situation today is fraught. Ethnic identity dominates the nation's political divisions--and those same...

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Jail for reporting on women in Mangalore, Mogadishu

March 8, 2013 1:31 PM ET

Today marks International Women's Day. Hashtags like #IWD and #InternationalWomensDay have been trending on Twitter. Among the twitterati who voiced their support for women's rights was Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He tweeted:  PM: Let me reiterate in this House the commitment of our govt. to ensuring the dignity, safety...

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Journalists relieved, wary amid Kenyan elections

March 5, 2013 4:46 PM ET

Journalists could be seen rushing from polling station to polling station Monday to see long queues of determined Kenyan voters in what was apparently a largely peaceful election, according to the Deputy Director of Kenya's statutory media council, Victor Bwire. But leading up to the vote, many journalists worked...

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Do news blackouts help journalists held captive?

February 26, 2013 11:44 AM ET

At any given time over the past two years, as wars raged in Libya and then Syria, and as other conflicts ground on in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, a number of journalists have been held captive by a diverse array of forces, from militants and rebels to criminals...

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As Kenya votes, journalists must take precautions

February 25, 2013 12:27 PM ET

Election-related violence is a worry for journalists in many countries, but perhaps nowhere more so than Kenya, where presidential polls will be held March 4. In the aftermath of the nation's last presidential elections in 2007, over one thousand people were killed in ethnic and political violence, live news...

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Will talk of stronger Somali justice lead to action?

February 21, 2013 5:05 PM ET

Spirits of journalists in Somalia, the most dangerous country in Africa to practice the profession, were lifted slightly this week after Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon made several auspicious announcements. The key concern on the minds of journalists in the capital, Mogadishu, is access to justice--both in terms of...

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Burundi police attack journalists marching for Ruvakuki

February 20, 2013 6:07 PM ET

On Tuesday, Burundi's press corps did what it has done for the past three weeks: protest the imprisonment of one of its own. Hassan Ruvakuki is a reporter jailed since November 28, 2011 on anti-state charges; for the first time, the journalists wore white t-shirts showing Ruvakuki in his...

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Faith in Somali judiciary hard to find as Abdiaziz jailed

February 5, 2013 1:10 PM ET

"Let's have faith in our judiciary system," Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed told an audience Monday at London's Chatham House, the foreign affairs think-tank....

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Eritrea: Ali Abdu pleads ignorance of Dawit Isaac's fate

February 1, 2013 5:29 PM ET

On Wednesday, the Swedish newspaper Expressen published what it described as an exclusive interview with Ali Abdu--Eritrea's long-time information minister, government spokesman, and censor-in-chief--who vanished from public view in November. The piece confirmed that Ali had gone into exile, but it shed no light on the whereabouts and well-being...

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An information void in Mali as journalists are obstructed

February 1, 2013 9:48 AM ET

Three weeks after France's military intervention in Mali, the war remains largely "without images and without facts," as described by Jean-Paul Mari, special envoy for the newsweekly Le Nouvel Observateur. Although journalists have been allowed to follow French and Malian forces into the towns that have been recovered from armed...

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Journalist Assistance helps record number in 2012

January 30, 2013 11:49 AM ET

An increase in press freedom violations last year created a surge of need among journalists, driving a record number of assistance cases for CPJ's Journalist Assistance Program in 2012. More than three-quarters of the 195 journalists who received support during the year came from East Africa and the Middle East...

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In Mali, a war 'without images and without facts'

January 25, 2013 11:54 AM ET

The French army is often called la Grande Muette, or "the Great Silent." The war in Mali confirms the French military's well-deserved reputation of being secretive about front-line actions. "Locking the information is more in the culture of the French army than of the U.S. army," says Maurice Botbol,...

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Preparation helps freelancers survive, thrive

January 24, 2013 11:01 AM ET

When the story is so important but the risks are so high, journalists must keep safety at the forefront of their thinking. That's especially true for freelancers who often do not have the support of a large news organization. Preparation, peer networking, and smart planning can help improve the...

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Talking international law and conflict journalists

January 22, 2013 2:31 PM ET

What is the humanitarian function of journalism in wartime? How does international humanitarian law protect journalists? Why is impunity the most important challenge facing journalists working in conflict zones?...

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Burundi journalists march to support Ruvakuki

January 16, 2013 4:22 PM ET

At 8 o'clock Tuesday morning roughly 50 Burundian journalists silently marched around the courthouses in the capital, Bujumbura, and the offices of the justice minister, protesting the imprisonment of their colleague, Hassan Ruvakuki. "They sentenced him to three years without following the law," said Patrick Nduwimana, one of the...

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