CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Mohamed Keita

Mohamed Keita is advocacy coordinator for CPJ's Africa Program. Keita has written about independent journalism and development in sub-Saharan Africa for publications including The New York Times and Africa Review, and has appeared on NPR, the BBC, Al-Jazeera, and Radio France Internationale. Keita has also given presentations on press freedom at the World Bank, U.S. State Department, and universities. Follow him on Twitter: @africamedia_CPJ.

Blog   |   Eritrea

Solomon Abera, who voiced end of Eritrean free press, dies

Solomon Abera was once a presenter for state television ERI-TV. (Solomon Abera)

The name Solomon Abera will forever be etched in the collective memory of Eritrea's press corps. On September 18, 2001, as the world focused its attention on the terrorist attacks on the United States, the government of Eritrea borrowed Abera's voice to sound the death knell, on state-controlled airwaves, of the Red Sea nation's independent press. Shortly after Abera read the announcement, the government rounded up leading independent newspaper editors and a dozen ruling-party dissidents calling for democratic reform -- all of whom have disappeared in custody.

Ten years to the day after being handed one of the most chilling news items he ever read on Dimtsi Hafash radio during his 14 years as a reporter, presenter, producer, and commentator, Abera reflected on the experience on our blog.

Today, we learned that Solomon Abera, who lived in exile in Germany after fleeing government censorship and intimidation in 2005, is no more.

December 2, 2011 5:12 PM ET

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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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Blog   |   Democratic Republic of the Congo

DRC journalists urge ruling party to halt abuse

Marchers urge ruling party to end abuse. (John Bompengo)

An estimated 200 Congolese journalists marched to the National Assembly in Kinshasa on Friday to show their outrage over reports that supporters of incumbent President Joseph Kabila have physically and verbally abused members of the press. 

August 29, 2011 3:12 PM ET

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Blog   |   Burundi

Burundi's journalists and lawyers face intense harassment

Rugurika (CPJ)

It's possible that no journalist in the world has received more court summonses in recent weeks than Editor Bob Rugurika of Burundi's Radio Publique Africaine (RPA), a station founded by CPJ award-winner Alexis Sinduhije.

On Tuesday, for the fifth time since July 18, Rugurika was interrogated by a magistrate in the capital, Bujumbura, about programs aired by his station, according to news reports and CPJ research. The magistrate allegedly asked Rugurika to "correct" a broadcast that pointed out that a 1996 U.N. report had implicated an official involved in the setting up of Burundi's Truth and Reconciliation Commission in a massacre, RPA Editor-in-Chief Eric Manirakiza told CPJ.

Blog   |   Togo

Togo journalists protest purported security threats

Togolese journalists at Saturday's protest. (Sylvio Combey)

Dozens of Togolese journalists marched in the capital, Lomé, on Saturday to call attention to reported allegations that government security agents planned to retaliate against critical reporters. The allegations themselves are in dispute--the government called them "fabricated"--but they are set against a recent U.N. report expressing concern over the official use of arbitrary detention and the alleged use of torture.

Blog   |   Guinea

Guinea's censorship order puts RFI in difficult spot

AFP

On Monday, Guinea's state-controlled media regulatory agency imposed a "temporary" ban on media coverage of the July 19 attack on the private residence of President Alpha Condé, silencing private radio and television talk programs in which critical questions were being raised about the episode. In such circumstances, Guinean listeners turn to foreign media outlets such as France's state-funded international broadcaster, Radio France Internationale (RFI), the most popular station in Francophone Africa. With programs such as "Appels Sur L'actualité," a daily news call-in show, RFI is considered by millions of African listeners to be an essential source of news and information. 

July 28, 2011 6:01 PM ET

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Blog   |   Ethiopia

UNHCHR grills Ethiopia on anti-terror law

Ethiopian officials were defiant in the face of U.N. questioning (UN)

This week, the Human Rights Committee of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights reviewed Ethiopia's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including its press freedom record. Peppered with questions about an indefensible record of abuse--jailing the second largest number of journalists in Africa and leading the continent in Internet censorship--representatives of the Ethiopian government responded with cursory talking points and bold denials in contradiction of the facts.

Blog   |   Senegal

Mission Journal: Politics influence justice in Senegal

President Wade protected a protege accused of orchestrating anti-press attacks. (AFP/Filippo Montegorte)
Senegalese journalists say justice is not on their side when they are victims of abuse by powerful officials or security forces. I met recently in Dakar with journalists targeted with criminal acts in apparent reprisal for their work. In these two high-profile cases, CPJ has found evidence of political influence on the judiciary.

Blog   |   Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, anti-terrorism law chills reporting on security

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's ruling party has designated five groups as terrorist entities. (AFP)

How can an Ethiopian reporter cover the activities of Ethiopia's leading opposition figure, Berhanu Nega, or an attack by the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels without risking prosecution and a 20-year prison sentence? Such questions have haunted Ethiopian journalists since a far-reaching anti-terrorism law came into effect in 2009. The law criminalizes any reporting authorities deem to "encourage" or "provide moral support" to groups and causes the government labels as "terrorists."

Blog   |   Rwanda

Rwanda's Kagame and journalist get into Twitter spat

President Paul Kagame is a leader who draws sharply divided opinions--praise from some for rebuilding Rwanda after the 1994 genocide and criticism from others over a record of repression of dissent and the press. On Saturday, a tweet critical of Kagame by British columnist Ian Birrell sparked a heated exchange about press freedom between the two men on the social networking site. 

May 16, 2011 2:29 PM ET

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