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

2013


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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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