CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Tom Rhodes

Tom Rhodes is CPJ's East Africa representative, based in Nairobi. Rhodes is a founder of southern Sudan’s first independent newspaper. Follow him on Twitter: @africamedia_CPJ

Blog   |   Burundi

Burundi must investigate attacks on journalists

The body of a man killed overnight lies on a street as polls open for the presidential elections in Bujumbura, Burundi, Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (AP/Jerome Delay)

The Committee to Protect Journalists and 18 other organizations are urging Burundi authorities to investigate attacks on journalists and human rights defenders. Since the April announcement that President Pierre Nkurunziza would run for a third term, defying constitutional limitations and sparking months of protests, journalists have been routinely targeted. At least five radio stations were attacked and their staff threatened, inducing a mass exodus of journalists fleeing the country and leaving an information vacuum at a critical juncture. In presidential elections in mid-July, Nkurunziza won nearly 70 percent of the vote.

August 6, 2015 1:33 PM ET

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Blog   |   Burundi

Press law debate and journalist's release signal hope for Burundi's media

Supporters of Radio Publique Africaine director Bob Rugurika crowd around the station's offices to celebrate his release on bail last month. Rugurika's release comes as Burundi debates an easing of press laws. (AFP/Esdras Ndikumana)

Burundi journalists may have more space to report freely ahead of the country's controversial elections this year after the legislative assembly pushed for amendments to a draconian press law and a radio director was released on bail.

Blog   |   Kenya

In Kenya, press curbed as government seeks to fight terrorism

Police arrest one of the protesters who gathered in Nairobi on December 18 to oppose the security bill. (AFP/Simon Maina)

The Kenyan press is being caught in the crossfire as authorities seek to strengthen defenses against terrorists. On December 19, Kenya's president signed into law a security bill that has the power to stop the press covering terror attacks. The government has also recently criticized the media over allegations that special units are carrying out extra-judicial killings, and a local journalist who reports on security issues has gone into hiding after receiving threats.

Blog   |   South Sudan

Mission Journal: As South Sudan conflict continues press still suffers

Members of the public visit the office of The Patriot. The paper's former chief editor says critical journalists risk being labeled rebel supporters. (CPJ)

On December 15 last year, fighting that broke out between supporters of South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar--who had been vice president until Kiir fired the entire Cabinet--escalated into a civil war that has increased pressure on an already fragile independent press.

Blog   |   Rwanda

BBC's Rwanda documentary leads to illogical, illegal suspension

A screenshot of the BBC Two documentary Rwanda's Untold Story, which led to the BBC's Kinyarwanda radio service being suspended in Rwanda.

When the BBC released in early October its televised documentary "Rwanda's Untold Story," which questioned official accounts of the 1994 genocide, a massive outcry inside and outside Rwanda's borders ensued. Locals and foreigners alike protested the documentary's findings, parliamentarians demanded a ban and legal action, and authorities summarily suspended BBC's vernacular Kinyarwanda news service, the Kinyarwanda Great Lakes Service, indefinitely on October 24. While some local journalists denounced and others applauded the BBC's conclusions, few supported the ban on the nationwide news service.

October 28, 2014 4:33 PM ET

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Blog   |   Burundi

Burundi's journalist union takes repressive press law to court

Alexandre Niyungeko, of the Burundi Union of Journalists, speaks out about the restrictive press law. (IWACU)

If the state decides that a journalist's article in Burundi jeopardizes someone's "moral integrity" under the country's Media Law it can demand that the journalist reveals sources, and it can suspend the publication. "It's a backwards, freedom-killing law," said Alexandre Niyungeko, the founder and head of the 300-member Burundi Union of Journalists. Despite the press fraternity's best efforts, including an appeal replete with 15,000 signatures from organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, urging the president to desist from signing it, President Pierre Nkurunziza passed the bill into law on June 4, 2013.

Blog   |   Ethiopia

New charges against Ethiopian publications further diminish critical voices

Addis Guday magazine is among the publications charged. (Addis Guday)

Five independent magazines and a weekly newspaper have been charged by Ethiopia's Justice Ministry, a move that may add to the long lists of shuttered publications and Ethiopian journalists in exile. In a press release issued August 4, the ministry accused the journals of publishing false information, inciting violence, and undermining public confidence in the government, news reports said.

The ministry said it pressed charges after running out of patience with the publications for "encouraging radicalism and terrorism." The state broadcaster aired the ministry's announcement, but none of the publications received the charge sheet, local journalists told me. The six independent publications are Afro Times, a weekly newspaper, and magazines Addis Guday, Enku, Fact, Jano, and Lomi. All are popular alternatives to the state-run press, which espouses an increasingly positive narrative. Local journalists and news reports said the charges could be a way for the ruling party to silence critics ahead of elections expected in May 2015.

Blog   |   Kenya, Security

Kenyan journalists, CPJ launch new initiative to improve security

Journalists take copies of the Kenyan security manual. (Zoe Mwende)

Today, the Committee to Protect Journalists in collaboration with local media organizations launched a journalist security guide and protocol designed specifically for the Kenyan press. The initiative stems from research conducted in 2013 by the same group of organizations, the Kenya Media Working Group, in light of acute and unique security challenges for the Kenyan press coming to light that year.

August 18, 2014 5:42 PM ET

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Blog   |   Ethiopia

CPJ calls on Ethiopian government to release imprisoned journalists

CPJ is among a group of more than 40 regional and international press freedom and civil society organizations that have signed a joint letter to Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn expressing concern over the recent imprisonment of Ethiopian journalists under the country's far-reaching 2009 anti-terrorism law.

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