Unknown gunmen shot the Mogadishu Bureau Chief for the independent, U.K.-based Somali Channel Television on October 12, 2014, outside his home in the Howlwadaag neighborhood in the capital, Mogadishu, according to local journalists and news reports.
Unknown gunmen shot the Mogadishu Bureau Chief for the independent, U.K.-based Somali Channel Television on October 12, 2014, outside his home in the Howlwadaag neighborhood in the capital, Mogadishu, according to local journalists and news reports.
The Ebola crisis in West Africa is unrelenting, and journalists on the frontline of reporting on the virus are caught between authorities wanting to control how the outbreak is reported, and falling victim to the disease themselves.
Nairobi, October 15, 2014--An Ethiopian court on Monday convicted journalist and magazine owner Temesghen Desalegn in connection with a 2012 defamation case, according to news reports and local journalists.
Prominent support for #RightToReport in the Digital Age
More than 2,800 people including prominent journalists Christiane Amanpour, Glenn Greenwald, and Alan Rusbridger have already signed on to CPJ's new campaign Right to Report in the Digital Age.
Abuja, Nigeria, September 30, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Congolese authorities' decision to expel a Cameroonian journalist from the country. Elie Smith, who was attacked in his home in September, is the second journalist whom authorities have expelled from the Republic of Congo in a week.
Abuja, Nigeria, September 25, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Congolese authorities' decision to expel a freelance journalist from the country and calls on them to allow her to enter the country and report freely. Before her expulsion, Sadio Kante reported receiving threats in connection with a series of stories she published on the attack of another journalist.
Cape Town, September 23, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of German-American journalist Michael Scott Moore, who was kidnapped by Somali pirates in the city of Galkayo in January 2012. Moore's abduction was not previously reported by most media outlets at the request of those seeking his release.
Abuja, Nigeria, September 22, 2014--A journalist and two media workers were killed on September 16 while covering an Ebola education campaign in Guinea's south-eastern forested region, according to news reports and local journalists.
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.
Cape Town, September 12, 2014--The image of Botswana as a bastion of press freedom and good governance has been dented following the arrest of an editor of a privately owned newspaper, and the seizure of his computer.
Abuja, Nigeria, September 12, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in the Congo to apprehend the perpetrators of an attack on Wednesday against a journalist in his home in Brazzaville. Elie Smith was threatened and held at gunpoint by unidentified men who he said also attacked his sister, according to news reports.
With the Ebola epidemic predicted to get worse, the Liberian government has taken action to silence news outlets critical of its handling of the health crisis which, according to Liberia's Information Ministry, has claimed more than 1,000 lives in the country since March. Publishers have been harassed and forced to cease printing, and journalists were initially not exempt from a curfew, making it difficult for them to work, according to the Press Union of Liberia (PUL).
Nairobi, September 9, 2014--Authorities in South Sudan must present journalist George Livio to a court or release him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The reporter for Radio Miraya, a U.N.-backed station, has been held without charge by security forces for more than two weeks, according to local journalists and news reports.
On August 30, 2014, the Lesotho military took control of police headquarters, jammed radio and television stations as well as telephone lines, and handed control of the tiny landlocked country to its deputy prime minister, according to news reports. Prime Minister Thomas Thabane fled to safety in South Africa for four days.
Nairobi, September 3, 2014--Somali journalist Hassan Gessey, a radio director at the independent Dalsan Radio, is being held without charge by the National Intelligence and Security Agency after criticizing a directive to restrict reporting on military operations, according to news reports and local journalists.
The apparent back-to-back murders of two American freelance journalists by the same group are unprecedented in CPJ's history. The beheadings on camera in a two-week period of first James Foley and then Steven Sotloff appear to be an acceleration of a pattern--dating at least to Daniel Pearl's killing in 2002--of criminal and insurgent groups displaying the murders of journalists to send a broad message of terror.
Nairobi, August 28, 2014--An editor from the Democratic Republic of Congo has been held by police without charge for a week in connection with libel allegations over a column published in the privately owned bi-weekly CongoNews, according to local journalists and news reports.
US-Africa Leaders Summit
President Barack Obama hosted the first US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington D.C. this month. The discussion focused on trade and investment, but CPJ helped put press freedom on the agenda. At a time of unprecedented growth and change in Africa, journalists are under increasing pressure, with spikes in repression from Ethiopia to Nigeria.
Nairobi, August 21, 2014 -- The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned about the detention of three Shabelle Media Network journalists and the closure of their station. Security agents arrested 19 individuals at the network's offices in the capital Mogadishu on August 15, and removed the transmitters of Radio Shabelle and Sky FM, two stations in the Shabelle Media Network, according to news reports and local journalists.
All but three of those arrested were released from the Somali National Security Services in Mogadishu on August 17, news reports said. Mohamed Musa, general manager of the independent Shabelle Media Network, told CPJ that he and Mohamed Bashir, a producer, are currently in hiding, fearing potential arrest. He added that members of the public, who had been visiting the station at the time of the raid, were among those arrested.
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.
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.
Nairobi, August 18, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns South Sudanese authorities' shutdown of the popular Catholic-run Bakhita Radio station in Juba, the capital, on Saturday and the ongoing detention of the station's news editor. Security agents raided the outlet in the morning and arrested four staff members, according to the station's managing director and news reports.
Liberian police on August 11, 2014, assaulted Henry Karmo, a journalist with the independent FrontPageAfrica newspaper, while he was photographing protesters in the capital, Monrovia, demonstrating against the imposition of a 90-day state of emergency by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, according to news reports. The directive was aimed at controlling the spread of the deadly ebola virus, the reports said.
Nairobi, August 12, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for the release of Mohamed Ibrahim Waiss, a radio journalist who was taken into custody on Friday in a suburb of the capital, Djibouti City, and accused of incitement and publishing false news.
Police arrested Mohamed, a journalist for the opposition online radio station La Voix de Djibouti (The Voice of Djibouti) at 1 p.m. while he was covering a demonstration by the Union Pour Le Salut National (Union for National Salvation), a coalition of opposition parties, according to local journalists and news reports. The union routinely holds weekly protests to protest a lack of basic services and democracy, local journalists told CPJ.
Requirements from Nigeria's broadcast regulator that radio and television stations nationwide should give notice of any live transmission of political programs has angered some journalists and raised questions about implementation.
Map by Rachael Levy. Sources: Congolese organizations, news reports, and CPJ research. Not all data has been independently verified by CPJ.
Tensions are rising in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after a government official announced recently he would support a change in the constitution to allow President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, to run for a third term in 2016. Under the current constitution, Kabila may serve a maximum of two five-year terms.
On August 6, 2014, police in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland detained Fatima Yusuf, a reporter for the private broadcaster Radio Daljir, according to local journalists and news reports. Police raided Fatima's hotel room in Puntland's capital, Garowe, and also arrested two other journalists, Puntland TV reporter Khadro Mohamed and Kalsan TV reporter Abdinasir Da'ad. The three were taken to Garowe Police Station.
Nairobi, August 6, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in South Sudan to ensure the safety of a freelance journalist who has been in hiding since late July. Abraham Agoth told CPJ that he fled his home in the northern state of Bahr el Ghazal on July 28, fearing arrest.
Top African and U.S. leaders are meeting next week in Washington in a first-of-its-kind summit focused on African development. But critics argue the summit is flawed in design, overlooking human rights such as freedom of expression and barring civil society actors from bilateral discussions.
Four years ago, when CPJ launched its Internet Advocacy program, we were met with lots of encouragement, but also some skepticism.
"Why do you need a program to defend the Internet?" one supporter asked. "You don't have a special program to defend television, or radio, or newspapers."
But the Internet is different. Increasingly, when it comes to global news and information the Internet is not a platform. It is the platform.
Nairobi, July 31, 2014--CPJ is alarmed by the detention of Addis Guday ("Addis Affairs") photojournalist Aziza Mohamed, who has been in custody for two weeks without charge. Police arrested Aziza on July 18 while she was covering Muslim protests near Anwar Mosque in the capital Addis Ababa, local journalists told CPJ. She is being held at the Addis Ababa police headquarters.
In a landmark ruling, the Zimbabwean Constitutional Court on July 22 declared unconstitutional a section of the draconian Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act that criminalizes defamation.
Cape Town, July 25, 2014--CPJ is appalled by the two-year prison sentence, without the option of a fine, imposed today on editor of The Nation Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko by the Swaziland High Court in Mbabane. The pair was convicted on contempt of court charges on July 17, in connection with separate articles each wrote in the independent newsmagazine criticizing the kingdom's chief justice, Michael Ramodibedi.
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.
Abuja, Nigeria, July 18, 2014--Nigerian authorities should drop the charges against a publisher who has been held in police custody since Tuesday on accusations of defaming a state governor, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Police on Tuesday detained Oga Tom Uhia, publisher of the monthly independent Power Steering magazine, Alexander Oketa, his lawyer, told CPJ. Uhia was charged in a lower court on Wednesday with five counts of criminal conspiracy, injurious falsehood, and defamation of character, the lawyer said. The prosecution cited a complaint by Gabriel Suswam, governor of Benue State, according to court documents.
Nairobi, July 17, 2014--An Ethiopian court charged nine Ethiopian journalists arrested in April with inciting violence and terrorism, according to local journalists and news reports. The nine arrested include six bloggers from an independent collective called Zone 9, which publishes critical news and commentary.
Cape Town, South Africa, July 17, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's convictions for contempt of court of an editor and lawyer in Swaziland.
Nairobi, July 14, 2014--The Ethiopian government should end its politicized prosecution of nine Ethiopian journalists arrested in April. The journalists and their lawyers were shut out of court room hearings in recent days.
Dear Hlaudi Motsoeneng: The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, is writing to express its concern at recent anti-press statements you made at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
"If they cannot indoctrinate you into their thinking, they fire you," said one former staff member of the state-run Oromia Radio and Television Organization (ORTO), who was dismissed from work last month after six years of service. "Now we are in hiding since we fear they will find excuses to arrest us soon," the journalist, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, told CPJ.
Police detained for several hours a reporter for the independent Daily News on July 3, 2014, local journalists told CPJ. Helen Kadirire was held in Mutoko, a town 143 kilometres (89 miles) east of the capital, Harare, after she started to cover a demonstration by the Mutoko North Development Trust, a local community organization, according to local reports.
My mother once sarcastically told me she could allow for my death, but couldn't live with seeing my leg or hand amputated or with a lost eye after reporting from a battlefield. It was when she first learned that I had been secretly studying journalism in May 2005. The news made her distraught. She wanted me to go to school for medicine upon completing high school and become a doctor; my father wanted me to be a sheikh--an Islamic scholar. I wanted to be a journalist, but didn't dare tell them.
Abuja, Nigeria, July 1, 2014--Gambian police should stop harassing a journalist over a story highlighting human trafficking in the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Cape Town, South Africa, June 23, 2014--Zimbabwean authorities should drop charges against the editor of the state-controlled Sunday Mail and release him immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, June 23, 2014--Authorities in Somalia must immediately investigate the murder of a Somali journalist in Mogadishu on Saturday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Yusuf Ahmed Abukar, who also used the name Yusuf Keynan, was killed when a bomb believed to be attached to his car exploded while he was on his way to work, according to news reports. Yusuf was a reporter for Mustaqbal radio, a privately owned station in Mogadishu, and Ergo radio, a Nairobi-based station that covered humanitarian affairs, reports said.
New York, June 13, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes Thursday's move by Zimbabwe's Constitutional Court to strike down criminal defamation, saying it is not compatible with the country's new constitution. The court ruled that criminal defamation violated freedom of expression and that civil suits would adequately protect individuals alleging defamation, reports said.
Nigerian authorities have been waging widespread attacks on nearly a dozen independent newspapers under the cover of fighting terrorism. By last weekend, no fewer than 10 newspapers had their operations nationwide disrupted, leading to the loss of hundreds of thousands of newspaper sales.
Abuja, Nigeria, June 10, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes today's ruling by a West African regional court, which found that the Gambian government failed to conduct a meaningful investigation into the murder of journalist Deyda Hydara. The ruling is the first ECOWAS case relating to the murder of a Gambian journalist.
New York, June 6, 2014--The Nigerian military this morning confiscated or destroyed copies of at least four leading newspapers, Punch, Leadership, Vanguard, and The Nation, around the country, according to news reports. A defense official claimed that authorities were looking for "materials with grave security implications," the reports said.
New York, June 5, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the declaration today by leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations that democratic governance and human rights should be integral to the post-2015 development agenda. The United Nations is seeking agreement on a broad set of sustainable development objectives to replace the Millennium Development Goals, which expire in 2015 and which made no mention of political or civil rights. The new goals will provide a framework for donor aid and thus influence priorities for years to come.
The struggle between Nigerian authorities and militant extremist group Boko Haram was recently thrust into the global spotlight with the abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls, but journalists in the country have been squeezed between the two sides for years.
CPJ's Brazil report spurs government meetings on press freedom
CPJ board member María Teresa Ronderos and CPJ Senior Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría traveled to Brasilia this month to launch a new special report, "Halftime for the Brazilian press," and met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, as well as other high-level government officials. CPJ also presented President Rousseff with the report's recommendations.
Brazil is home to a vibrant investigative press, but journalists are murdered regularly and their killers go free, CPJ's report found. Brazil is the 11th deadliest country in the world for journalists, and at least 10 have been killed in direct reprisal for their work since President Rousseff came to power, CPJ research shows.
Freedom of expression advocates in South Africa are concerned that the new Ministry of Communications, announced by President Jacob Zuma when he unveiled his cabinet on May 25, will compromise the independence of the public broadcaster and serve as a propaganda office.
New York, May 28, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the detention of a journalist without charge since Monday and calls on Ethiopian authorities to release him immediately. An Ethiopian court on Tuesday extended by 14 days the pre-trial detention of Elias Gebru, according to news reports.
Ethiopia's federal police in the capital, Addis Ababa, summoned Elias, editor-in-chief of the independent news magazine Enku, for questioning in connection with a column published in his paper, according to news reports. The Awramba Times reported that the column discussed a monument recently erected outside the capital in honor of ethnic Oromos massacred in the 19th century by Emperor Menelik's forces. The monument has ignited divisions between some Oromos and supporters of the emperor's legacy.
A Kenyan journalist working for the privately owned daily The Star went into hiding on May 7, 2014, two days after she received threats, she told CPJ. Lydia Ngoolo said she was told via a text message to stop writing about "us."
Less than a year later, Lepage's body was found in a car in the Central African Republic, according to news reports citing the French government. She had been traveling with fighters of the anti-Balaka Christian militia and was killed in an ambush, the reports said.
In what appears to be one of a collection of measures to silence the press ahead of 2015 elections, Ethiopian authorities in the Communications Ministry are preparing a new system to control the distribution of print media. Privately owned newspapers and magazines, possibly the only remaining independent news sources in the country, would face more state control if the proposal is set into motion.
New York, May 13, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for an immediate investigation into the death of French freelance photojournalist Camille Lepage, 26, in the Central African Republic. In a statement issued today, the French government said that French troops had discovered Lepage's body in a vehicle driven by fighters of the anti-Balaka Christian militia, according to news reports.
Today, CPJ partnered with Reporters Without Borders and Rory Peck Trust in a joint open letter calling on Kenya's Cabinet Secretary of Interior, Joseph Ole Lenku, to provide clarity on the government's refugee policy and to exempt journalists from forced relocation to the refugee camps. On March 25, Lenku ordered all urban refugees to relocate to one of two refugee camps in a bid to tighten security amid continuing violence, including an attack on a church in Mombasa. His order came despite the fact that a similar government directive in 2012 was ruled unconstitutional by the High Court.
Nairobi, May 12, 2014--A regional court in the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland remanded two journalists into custody on Saturday after charging them with libel, false publication, and anti-state propaganda, according to news reports and the local Somaliland Journalists' Association. Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, chairman of the Haatuf Media Network, and Ahmed Ali, chief editor of the network, were jailed after the hearing, the reports said.
This week, South Africans go to the polls for their fifth democratic elections since 1994, but despite constitutional guarantees of media freedom, the vast majority of South Africans who vote will do so informed only by the positive news and information carried by a public broadcaster widely criticized for its partiality to the ruling party.
By Shazdeh Omari/CPJ News Editor
New York, April 29, 2014—Uzbek editor Muhammad Bekjanov has been in jail for 15 years, one of the longest imprisonments of journalists worldwide. Prominent Iranian journalist Siamak Ghaderi was imprisoned in 2010 and has been beaten and whipped in custody. Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Van Hai, serving a 12-year jail term, could barely walk or talk during a prison visit in July 2013, his family said.
Nairobi, April 28, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the Ethiopian government's arrests of nine journalists in one of the worst crackdowns against free expression in the country.
"With the latest arrests, Ethiopian authorities are turning the peaceful exercise of free expression into a crime," said CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes.
On Sunday, a public prosecutor in the capital, Addis Ababa, accused the detainees--editor Asmamaw Hailegeorgis, freelancers Tesfalem Waldyes and Edom Kassaye, and bloggers Abel Wabella, Atnaf Berhane, Mahlet Fantahun, Natnail Feleke, Zelalem Kibret, and Befekadu Hailu--of working with foreign human rights organizations and using social media to create instability in the country, according to news reports and local journalists. Tesfalem, Asmamaw, and Zelalem will have their next court hearing on May 7, while the rest will appear in court on May 8, the same sources said. The journalists have not been formally charged with a crime.
New York, April 24, 2014--An investigative journalist in Cameroon told CPJ today that his car had been destroyed in an explosion early this morning. Denis Nkwebo said the car was parked outside his house in the commercial capital of Douala, and that no one was hurt in the explosion.
Nkwebo, an editor of the leading private daily Le Jour, told CPJ that acquaintances and his contacts within the government had warned him to be careful in his investigation and coverage of Cameroonian security forces. In an April 15 article, Nkwebo said security forces were struggling to stem a spate of kidnappings and armed attacks in the regions bordering unstable Nigeria and the strife-torn Central African Republic.
Dear Ambassadors Kamau and Kőrösi: I am writing to you in your capacity as the co-chairmen of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. Your work and the recommendations of your group will help frame the discussion in the coming year as United Nations member states seek to agree a set of objectives to succeed the Millennium Development Goals beyond 2015. We at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) believe it is vital that your report to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon later this year include freedom of expression and access to information and independent media as part of the post-2015 agenda.
Unsolved Murders: 100
Population: 32.6 million
Unsolved Murders: 26
Population: 10.2 million
Unsolved Murders: 51
Population: 96.7 million
Unsolved Murders: 9
Population: 20.3 million
Unsolved Murders: 7
Population: 22.4 million
Unsolved Murders: 5
Population: 29.8 million
Unsolved Murders: 16
Population: 120.8 million
Unsolved Murders: 6
Population: 47.7 million
Unsolved Murders: 22
Population: 179.2 million
Unsolved Murders: 14
Population: 143.5 million
Unsolved Murders: 9
Population: 198.7 million
Unsolved Murders: 5
Population: 168.8 million
Unsolved Murders: 7
Population: 1,237 million
New York, April 15, 2014--Authorities in Cameroon should release a newspaper editor who has been imprisoned since March 29 after being convicted of criminal defamation, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On Friday, a judge postponed indefinitely a bail hearing for Amungwa Tanyi Nicodemus, according to news reports.
New York, April 10, 2014--Swaziland police on Wednesday re-arrested veteran editor Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko three days after they had been released from prison, according to news reports. The two, who were first jailed on March 18 and held until Sunday, had written articles that criticized Swaziland's chief justice, the reports said.
On Wednesday, High Court Judge Mpendulo Simelane issued new arrest warrants for Makhubu, editor of the independent newsmagazine The Nation, and Maseko, alleging that the two had failed to heed an April 1 court order to appear before him, the state-run Swazi Observer reported. Makhubu and Maseko appeared at the High Court in the capital, Mbabane, today, and were sent back to prison pending a court date on April 14, according to the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, a regional human rights group.
Nairobi, April 8, 2014--Police in the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland on Thursday raided the Hargeisa offices of the independent Somali-language paper Haatuf and its sister English-language weekly, Somaliland Times, and suspended them indefinitely, according to local journalists and news reports.
"Do not forget the genocide," said the voice of a state broadcast announcer in Kigali crackling through a cheap car radio, referring to the organized slaughter 20 years ago of more than 10 percent of the population. "We are all one now," he said, speaking in Rwanda's common language of Kinyarwanda, and meaning that Rwandans no longer identify themselves as being either Hutu or Tutsi.
Nairobi, March 31, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Somali authorities in the capital, Mogadishu, to release a radio journalist who has been held without charge since Sunday. Nuradin Hassan is an editor of Sky FM, as well as a news presenter, according to news reports and Sky FM.
"@RFI speak straight up English, frenchie!! U crying? U started not to make sense," was one taunting tweet from a certain prolific Twitter account belonging to "Richard Goldston." The account, since deleted, belonging to a self-proclaimed "anti-imperialist," repeatedly antagonized Radio France Internationale journalist Sonia Rolley for her critical coverage of the deaths of Rwandan government officials-turned-dissidents.
Cape Town, March 19, 2014--Authorities in Swaziland should immediately release Bheki Makhubu, editor of the independent newsmagazine The Nation, and Thulani Maseko, a human rights lawyer, who were imprisoned earlier this week in connection with articles published in The Nation, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Last week, South Sudanese Information Minister Michael Makuei warned reporters in the capital, Juba, not to interview the opposition or face possible arrest or expulsion from the country. According to the minister, a lawyer by profession, broadcast interviews with rebels by local media are considered "hostile propaganda" and "in conflict with the law."
Turkey's prime minister made headlines last week by threatening to block Facebook in the country, but as recent events in Nigeria show, a more discreet intervention can be effective in disrupting the free flow of information.
EDITOR'S NOTE: February 15, 2014 marked one year since Omwa Ombara arrived in the U.S. to seek political asylum after attempts on her life in Kenya between May and December 2012. She fled her native land after being contacted by International Criminal Court (ICC) investigators probing the violence that followed the Kenyan elections in 2007-2008, in which more than 1,000 people were killed, according to news reports. Ombara was never a witness, nor did she ever meet any ICC investigators, but the mere suspicion that she was participating in the ICC process prompted a spate of threats. She describes her own ordeal and the culture of silence that has settled over most of the Kenyan media. CPJ's Journalist Assistance program supported Ombara throughout her ordeal.
Should journalists expect support and protection from security agents when they risk their lives to report on security operations? What if their coverage could potentially expose military strategies? Why are journalists disparaged as unpatriotic when they show how security operations fail?
At least two journalists reported being attacked, threatened, and obstructed in January 2014 in Zimbabwe, while a third was summoned to court a year after being charged, according to news reports.
New York, February 18, 2014--A journalist in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo died on Sunday from gunshot wounds he sustained in a shootout between Congolese troops and Ugandan rebels, according to news reports.
Nairobi, February 14, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned by reports that two radio directors in the capital, Mogadishu, were arrested and held without charge for two days by Somalia's National Security Agency.
Somalia authorities detained two radio directors for two days and threatened to kill them if they continued to air news critical of the government upon their release, local journalists told CPJ. On Tuesday evening, National Security agents arrested the directors of two independent radio stations, Mohamed Barre and Ibrahim Mohamed from Radio Danan and Radio Haatuf, respectively, according to news reports and local journalists. They were released from a detention center Thursday night without charge, according to the same sources. Mohamed and Ibrahim were beaten in custody, a colleague who spoke to the journalists told CPJ.
The scope of the National Security Agency's digital surveillance raises doubts about the U.S. commitment to freedom of expression online. By Joel Simon
Economists and political scientists acknowledge that journalism is vital to development and democracy. By Robert Mahoney
Calls for journalists to exercise a sense of responsibility are very often code for censorship. Yet unethical journalism can also imperil the press. By Jean-Paul Marthoz
The recent financial meltdown should be treated as a lesson on the importance of information transparency and the crucial role of a free press. By Michael J. Casey
Front-line reports and analytical essays by CPJ experts cover an array of topics of critical importance to journalists. Governments store transactional data and the content of journalists' communications. Media and money engage in a tug of war, with media owners reluctant to draw China's disfavor and advertisers able to wield surprising clout. In Syria, journalists are determined to distribute the news amid the chaos of conflict. In Vietnam, the government makes a heavy-handed bid to bring the Internet under control. And globally, eliminating witnesses has become an all too easy method of stymying justice when journalists are assassinated.
How robust are the institutional safeguards that underpin Nelson Mandela's vision of a strong and independent South African media? By Sue Valentine
Burundi's climate of press freedom deteriorated under President Pierre Nkurunziza in 2013. In June, the president signed into law a severely restrictive bill that forces journalists to reveal sources and places heavy fines and prison sentences on coverage the government considers detrimental to state security or the local economy. In April, CPJ wrote an open letter to the president, calling the law an "affront to the Burundi Constitution," and highlighting specific articles especially restrictive for journalists. Several journalists were attacked over the year, some by police officers attempting to quell a weekly protest by reporters calling for the release of their imprisoned colleague, Bonesha FM correspondent Hassan Ruvakuki. In March, Ruvakuki was released from prison with no explanation. He had been sentenced to prison in November 2011 for "participating with a criminal group" and spent 463 days in jail.
Violations of press freedom, including physical attacks on journalists, arbitrary arrests, detentions, and censorship across the country declined in 2013, compared with the previous year. Several journalists were attacked over the year; the eastern province of North Kivu, where fighting flared between government forces and rebel groups, was the most dangerous region for journalists, according to CPJ research. Local officials and rebels there censored broadcasters and harassed local and international journalists over coverage of the conflict. The state-run media regulatory agency suspended radio programs and journalists airing commentary critical of the authorities. Several soldiers were placed under investigation in connection with an attack on a community radio station in January. Although the reason for the attack was not clear, the station had aired several reports that criticized the military.
A year after the death of Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn succeeded in preserving the repressive climate in Ethiopia. Several journalists faced interrogation or prosecution for writing about the late leader, his policies, and even his widow. One journalist, Temesghen Desalegn, former chief editor of the critical weekly Feteh, was charged in February with defaming the government in connection with his articles on Meles. Some reporters attempting to cover other sensitive topics, like anti-government protests and the forced eviction of farmers, were also detained and harassed, while others fled the country fearing arrest. The government did not disclose the health, whereabouts, or legal status of two journalists who have been in custody for seven years. Authorities banned two independent newspapers, accusing them of violating press regulations, as well as a private broadcaster which was reporting extensively on peaceful protests by Ethiopian Muslims. The country faced international condemnation over the imprisonment of award-winning journalists Eskinder Nega, Reeyot Alemu, and Woubshet Taye, who were serving heavy terms on vague terrorism charges, but the Ethiopian government retaliated by imposing harsher conditions on them, including the threat of solitary confinement. Authorities continued to crack down on the online press by increasing its “technological capacity to filter, block, and monitor Internet and mobile phone communications,” according to an October report by Freedom House.
Anti-press attacks increased in Guinea in 2013 amid political unrest and inter-ethnic clashes in the run-up to the country's long-delayed legislative elections. The voting was finally held on September 28 and won by President Alpha Condé's party. Journalists were threatened and assaulted while covering pre-election activities, with some saying the assailants were security forces or political party supporters. Journalists were caught up in tension between supporters of Condé, mostly of the Malinke ethnicity, and opposition militants of the mainly Peul ethnicity. Some journalists were also accused of being spies for political parties. Government officials and security forces supportive of Condé shut down radio stations, suspended and detained their staff, and barred journalists from reporting on Condé's pre-election campaign tour. Though many journalists have been attacked in Guinea over the years, CPJ research shows that not one perpetrator of an anti-press attack has been held responsible since 2008.
The government of President Yahya Jammeh sought to tighten its grip on the already weak independent press with detentions, criminal prosecutions, and the introduction of more repressive legislation. The National Intelligence Agency arbitrarily detained at least three reporters in connection with their work for prolonged periods of time. One remained in detention in late year. Authorities announced their intention to re-introduce statutory regulation of the press with a government-run Media Commission and criminalized online dissidence by passing a law imposing a harsh prison sentence on any individual, living in the country or abroad, who uses the Internet to criticize public officials. No new information surfaced on the whereabouts of journalist Ebrima “Chief” Manneh, who disappeared after being arrested by agency officers seven years ago. The government has made contradicting claims about Manneh’s whereabouts and health over the years, and has not complied with various international rulings ordering his release.
The government of President Goodluck Jonathan used legal tools as well as brutal means to clamp down on media coverage deemed critical of the government. Sensitive and dangerous topics for the press included coverage of high-level public corruption, the government's war against Boko Haram insurgents, and the political activities of the Jonathan administration. Regulatory agencies headed by Jonathan-appointed officials cracked down on radio commentary critical of the government, and banned a radio station in connection with its criticism of an official polio immunization campaign. Film regulators also banned an acclaimed documentary detailing a culture of impunity for public corruption. The administration criminally charged the independent newspaper Leadership over the publication of a memo allegedly written by the president on plans to increase gas prices and sabotage a merger of opposition political parties. Amid continuing military action against insurgents in the north, security forces also harassed a newspaper in connection with its investigative report on alleged extrajudicial detentions of terrorism suspects. The government amended the anti-terrorism law to include broadly defined offenses that criminalize some legitimate newsgathering activities, according to news reports. Nigeria appeared for the first time on CPJ's Impunity Index, which highlights countries where journalists are murdered regularly and killers go free.
While the Somali government elected in 2012 attempted to gain more control and improve security, attacks on journalists continued. At least five reporters were attacked by militia groups loosely connected to the government, according to news reports. CPJ documented four journalists killed in direct relation to their work in Somalia, an improvement from 2012, which was the deadliest year on record with 12 journalists killed. In early 2013, the prime minister created a task force to investigate cases of killed journalists, but little had been done by the end of the year. The international community condemned serious flaws in the Somali justice system after a court imprisoned freelance journalist Abdiaziz Abdinuur for 66 days for interviewing the victim of an alleged rape who claimed security forces were the perpetrators. The staff of a critical daily in the semi-autonomous region of Somaliland was harassed over the year: The director was attacked, the paper temporarily suspended in June and again indefinitely in December, and the editor and director briefly jailed on defamation charges. The charges were later dropped. A new media law considered by local journalists as progressive was passed in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in December.
Dubbed "the world's last absolute monarchy," the tiny, land-locked country teetered on the brink of bankruptcy while King Mswati III maintained tight control of news media and opposition voices. The king owned one of the two daily newspapers and employed the editor of the other as an adviser. Radio and television were also controlled by the state. Though Swazis readily accessed South African radio and television, South African newspapers entering Swaziland were carefully screened by authorities: If deemed critical of the king or government, all copies were purchased and destroyed. Self-censorship prevailed in the kingdom, where political parties are banned and critical voices within civil society and the media were silenced through legal or professional repercussions. Few dared challenge the government; the boards of state-owned companies such as the Swazi Observer Newspaper group kept their editors in check and, in turn, editors ensured that their reporters toed the line. A court sentenced the editor of the independent paper The Nation to a harsh fine in connection with his critical articles. He appealed to the Supreme Court and was free pending the appeal. In a positive development, parliament passed bills allowing for the creation of diverse TV and radio services, including community radio, and a commission to regulate broadcasting.
As public dissent grew in the lead-up to the 2015 presidential and parliamentary elections, attacks and threats against journalists rose. Police were believed to be the perpetrators in nearly a third of the cases. Unidentified assailants brutally attacked a veteran journalist in March, but authorities had not identified the motive, attackers, or mastermind in late year. The increase in threats and attacks occurred alongside a backdrop of anti-press legislation. CPJ identified 17 repressive media-related statutes, including a ban on publications the government considers seditious. For five years, Tanzanian authorities have pledged to address the legislation, but no changes had taken place in late year. CPJ found that the laws were used to induce self-censorship in the independent press. One paper, the critical weekly MwanaHalisi, was silenced indefinitely under the 1976 Newspaper Act.
Though attacks against the press diminished compared with recent years, authorities continued to crack down on journalists for critical coverage. Police were accused of being the perpetrators in a third of the assaults on journalists. The government instigated the longest arbitrary suspension of the press in recent years after police raided two dailies, The Monitor and Red Pepper, and silenced them for 10 days in connection with their coverage. Two radio stations at the same premises were also suspended. Police ignored for a week a court order allowing the dailies to resume publishing. In July, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, a newly appointed internal security minister, told the local press he would enforce stricter media regulation policies and said he would be monitoring the formerly suspended publications. Authorities continued to censor journalists, preventing them from covering public functions. In August, Parliament passed the Public Order Management Bill, which criminalizes public meetings without express police permission and is seen by local and international press freedom and civil society organizations as a tool to suppress opposition rallies and subsequent media coverage.
Promises of a freer media environment by the Patriotic Front, which won election in 2011 after a campaign that pledged greater broadcast media freedom and a law promoting access to information, had yet to be fulfilled by late 2013. Journalists operated cautiously lest they fell afoul of thin-skinned authorities, and staff members at state-owned publications risked early retirement or redeployment into bureaucratic jobs for not toeing the party line. At least five journalists faced criminal charges in 2013; all of them had reported critically on the government. The newly established Independent Broadcasting Authority awarded private broadcast licenses, but its independence was questioned when President Michael Sata revoked certain licenses. Of the country’s three major newspapers, two were state-controlled and the Post, once highly regarded for its independence, supported the ruling party in 2013, leaving few outlets where journalists could report freely. The government targeted at least three critical websites over the year, forcing one of them to repeatedly move servers--a virtual game of cat-and-mouse.
Though general elections in July took place in a significantly more peaceful atmosphere than the 2008 vote, the news media remained dominated by state-owned outlets. Journalists and human rights defenders were frequent targets of physical attacks and brief detentions in the months leading up to the election, which renewed the 33-year grip on power of 89-year-old President Robert Mugabe, giving the ruling party a two-thirds majority which could allow it to make changes to the country's recently approved constitution. No journalists were detained at the time of the elections, but an observer mission of Southern African editors failed to receive media accreditation ahead of the vote. Authorities maintained a tight hold on radio, the principal means of communication for Zimbabweans, most of whom live in rural areas. Though two commercial, urban-based stations were licensed in mid-2012, community radio stations were blocked from the air, and calls for the licensing of additional commercial licenses fell on deaf ears. Despite new constitutional provisions that guarantee media freedom and civil liberties, repressive laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Public Order and Security Act, and the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, remained on the books.
Today, a broad coalition of technology companies, human rights organizations, political groups, and others will take to the Web and to the streets to protest mass surveillance. The mobilization, known as "The Day We Fight Back," honors activist and technologist Aaron Swartz, who passed away just over a year ago. Throughout the day, the campaign will encourage individuals to contact their representatives, pressure their employers, and march for an end to government surveillance practices that sweep up huge amounts of data, often indiscriminately.
Cape Town, South Africa, February 5, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on police in Angola to release a journalist who has been held since Sunday on accusations of slander and defamation.
Nairobi, February 5, 2014--Authorities from the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland on Monday indefinitely banned the U.K.-based private broadcaster Universal TV in connection with its critical coverage of the president, local journalists told CPJ. The station has complied with the directive and is not broadcasting in Somaliland, according to news reports.
New York, January 29, 2014---The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by recent detentions in Niger of journalists critical of the government. In the past week, four journalists have been held for days without charge, two of whom remain in custody, and the justice minister has warned of a crackdown.
Cape Town, South Africa, January 29, 2014--South African authorities should drop charges against a journalist who was roughed up and detained after photographing police officers allegedly involved in bribery, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Ricky Dire, a journalist with the Daily Sun, also received death threats.
"This is the worst situation I ever reported since I started reporting in 2007," BBC Media Action producer Manyang David Mayar told me after he left the restive town of Bor, Jonglei State in South Sudan. Forced to walk long distances carrying his suitcase on his head to escape the fighting in Bor, Mayar drank dirty water and slept in the bush.
Lagos, Nigeria, January 24, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by reports of grave anti-press violations in Equatorial Guinea ahead of an investment symposium planned for early February.
Lagos, Nigeria, January 14, 2014--Gambian authorities should drop the charges against two journalists who have been held since Monday on accusations of giving false information, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
"When I grow up will I go to jail like my dad?" This was the shattering question that the five-year-old son of imprisoned Ethiopian journalist Woubshet Taye asked his mother after a recent prison visit. Woubshet's son, named Fiteh (meaning "justice"), has accompanied his mother on a wayward tour of various prisons since his father was arrested in June 2011.
Authorities have inexplicably transferred Woubshet, the former deputy editor of the independent weekly Awramba Times, to a number of prisons. From Maekelawi Prison, authorities transferred him to Kality Prison in the capital, Addis Ababa, then to remote Ziway Prison, then Kilinto Prison (just outside Addis Ababa), back to Kality, and in December last year--to Ziway again.
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