Africa

2011

Blog   |   Burundi

Burundi media defy censorship order

A woman mourns at the burial of a man killed in the Gatumba shooting. (Reuters)

Tensions between the Burundi government and the local press are bound to increase as several media this week defied an order not to investigate or discuss a recent massacre. While officials say the measure is "temporary" and necessary to safeguard national unity and the course of justice, independent journalists are asserting their right to publish information in the interest of public accountability.

September 30, 2011 5:40 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Somalia

AU forces say four soldiers responsible for journalist's death

Noramfaizul Mohd, hours before he was killed. (Bernama)

New York, September 26, 2011--Four African Union soldiers deployed in Somalia have been suspended and returned to their home country of Burundi for potential trial after an internal investigation found them responsible for the shooting death of a Malaysian journalist this month. In a statement issued today, the African Union Mission in Somalia, or AMISOM, apologized for the shooting, which injured a second Malaysian journalist.

The troops fired on a Malaysian humanitarian aid convoy traveling to its base at the Mogadishu airport, according to witnesses cited in international news reports. Killed in the September 2 gunfire was Noramfaizul Mohd, 39, a cameraman for Malaysia's national Bernama TV who was accompanying the humanitarian mission. Aji Saregar, 27, a camera operator for Malaysia's TV3, was struck in the right hand by gunfire.

September 26, 2011 6:24 PM ET

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Blog   |   Equatorial Guinea

UNESCO must reject Obiang prize bid

The Committee to Protect Journalists joined with eight other human rights organizations today in opposing the bid for a UNESCO life sciences prize named after Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. CPJ and other groups have consistently voiced their opposition to this prize, saying that Equatorial Guinea's human rights record undercuts the UNESCO mission.

Last year, after human rights organizations, press freedom groups, scientists, journalists, and intellectuals spoke out against the bid, the Obiang prize was suspended indefinitely.

The press release can be seen here

September 26, 2011 5:29 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Eritrea

Journalists face threats in covering Isaac imprisonment

Meron Estefanos was threatened over her coverage of journalist Dawit Isaac. (Sven Lindvall/Expressen)

New York, September 26, 2011--A Sweden-based journalist was publicly threatened Friday in connection with her reporting on the case of Dawit Isaac, a Swedish-Eritrean journalist who has been imprisoned in Eritrea for a decade without charge, according to news reports and CPJ interviews. A day earlier in New York, bodyguards for the Eritrean leader Isaias Afewerki pushed and threatened two Swedish journalists seeking to speak to the president about the Isaac case, the journalists said. 

Blog   |   Eritrea

Eritrea: Let's lift the shroud of 10 years of misery

On September 18, 2001, President Isaias Afewerki banned all independent press in Eritrea. (AP)

Since Zaid Tewelde's husband, an Eritrean freedom fighter turned playwright and journalist, was arrested in September 2001, she has spent each passing day coping with the burning questions of her two young sons, age 9 and 10, "Where is my dad? When are we going to see him?" And she is not alone. Like Zaid, the wives of journalists Seyoum Tsehaye, Dawit Isaac, Yusuf Mohamed Ali, and Temesghen Ghebreyesus, among others, have endured the same haunting questions 365 days a year for a decade.

Blog   |   Gambia

Gambia VP touts tourism, downplays human rights issues

Gambian Vice-President Isatou Njie-Saidy (AFP)

The Gambia has an image problem: Dubbed the "Smiling Coast of Africa," it is a tourist destination, but its government has one of the region's worst records of human rights abuses. On Tuesday, at an African tourism promotion event in New York City, Gambian Vice-President Isatou Njie-Saidy headed a delegation working toward improving the negative perceptions of the country.

In a discussion with Njie-Saidy after the event, I mentioned to her that an Internet search of the Gambia yields many results about its human right abuses. In response, she shifted the topic to the United States: "Do they tell you about Guantánamo Bay? Seems like a human rights issue," she said. "And, you know, in the Internet, you have a lot of garbage. ... Don't believe everything you read: You have to look in between." She later accused social media of peddling untruths: "Social media is the problem," she said.

September 21, 2011 3:26 PM ET

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Alerts   |   South Africa

South Africa's ruling ANC pulls secrecy bill

Children march with signs protesting the Protection of Information Bill. (Right2Know)

New York, September 20, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is relieved by Monday's decision by the parliamentary majority of South Africa's ruling party to withdraw a controversial bill from consideration pending further consultation with public interest groups over its contentious clauses.

Blog   |   Ethiopia

In Ethiopia case, a response to WikiLeaks

Last week, we learned that Ethiopian journalist Argaw Ashine was facing possible arrest and needed to flee the country. During a 10-day period in September, he had been summoned three times by Ethiopian authorities and questioned about a reference to him in a cable sent by the U.S. Embassy in October 2009 and made public by WikiLeaks last month.
September 19, 2011 1:05 PM ET

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Blog   |   Eritrea

When Eritrea shut down the independent press

Ten years after the author reported the government's shutdown of the private press, Eritrea continues to imprison journalists swept up in the crackdown. Among them is Dawit Isaac, a Swedish-Eritrean national whose case has drawn wide attention. (Petra Jankov Picha)

It was September 18, 2001. As usual, I had to do my shift as a news reader on Eritrea's national government-controlled radio station Dimtsi Hafash. It was just minutes before 6:30 a.m. I was almost ready with all of the Tigrinya news material given to me for broadcasting and was waiting for the on-air sign to flash and the countdown to begin. Then the phone rang.

September 18, 2011 1:16 PM ET

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Blog   |   Eritrea

EU resolution urges Eritrea to free long-jailed journalists

From left, European Parliament members Judith Sargentini, Charles Tannock, Ana Gomes, and Olle Schmidt call for the release of Eritrean political prisoners. (European Parliament)

Eritrea was on the hot seat Thursday in Strasbourg and Brussels. Ten years after a massive crackdown on dissent in Asmara that included the arrests of 11 independent journalists, European institutions have signalled that they are weary of President Isaias Afeworki's repression. 

September 16, 2011 5:51 PM ET

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2011

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