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   |   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.

Blog   |   Ethiopia

Twenty Ethiopia state journalists dismissed, in hiding

People demonstrate in Addis Ababa on May 24 against security forces who shot at students at a peaceful rally weeks eearlier in Oromia state. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

"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.

Blog   |   Central African Republic, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan

Remembering Camille Lepage


"Not sure I can talk about my 'career' just yet--I'm still just getting started!" freelance photographer Camille Lepage told the photography site Petapixel in October 2013.

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. 

Blog   |   Kenya

Kenya must consider plight of refugee journalists

Somali families are boarded onto lorries from Eastleigh, Nairobi, and sent to one of two refugee camps. (Mohamed Adow)

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.

Blog   |   Rwanda

Twitter war shines light on how Rwanda intimidates press

An international journalist was denied entry to Rwanda after discovering that a pro-government Twitter account had been falsified by someone within the office of President Paul Kagame, pictured. (Reuters/Ruben Sprich)

"@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.

Blog   |   South Sudan

South Sudan government warning: Don't interview rebels

South Sudanese Information Minister Michael Makuei has told reporters not to interview the opposition. (Eye Radio)

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."

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