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   |   South Sudan

Reporting on South Sudan crisis difficult, dangerous

Families displaced by fighting wait to be registered for food rations at a makeshift camp inside a United Nations facility on the outskirts of Juba on Monday. (Reuters/James Akena)

"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 get accurate information and report on one of the most tragic, restive periods in South Sudan's short history. And, like other South Sudanese journalists, he has to weigh his work against safeguarding his own and his family's safety.

December 23, 2013 2:52 PM ET

Blog   |   Uganda

Uganda: Block the opposition and block the press

Police attempt to arrest a supporter of Erias Lukwago outside his home on December 2. (Monitor)

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.

December 11, 2013 4:51 PM ET

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Blog   |   Kenya

Kenya's press takes to the streets against bill

A banner tied to the gates of Parliament protests a media bill under review. (CPJ/Tom Rhodes)

"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 William Janak, chairman of the correspondents' association, including roughly 80 to 100 protesters in the port-city of Mombasa, 100 in the central city of Kisumu, and 400 in the capital, Nairobi.

Blog   |   Kenya

Just the fear of draconian press laws is enough

Kenyan journalists' protests in 2007 warded off a new media law. (AP)

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 deliberation period.

November 5, 2013 3:29 PM ET

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Blog   |   Somalia

Shabelle off air and staff evicted, fearing for safety

Radio Shabelle was forced out of these offices on Saturday. (NPR)

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 gunpoint, according to a statement by the Shabelle Media Network.  The security forces dismantled and took all of the equipment for Radio Shabelle and Sky-FM, a sister station in the same building, as well as Shabelle TV. 

October 30, 2013 10:49 AM ET

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Blog   |   Kenya

Kenyan police threaten press -- Press fights back!

In this screenshot, Kenyan Police Chief David Kimaiyo holds a press conference on October 23 in which he harshly criticizes the press. (K24TV)

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.

Blog   |   Kenya

Covering Westgate

Two photographers take cover outside the Westgate Mall. (AP/Sayyid Azim)

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 inside.

Blog   |   Somalia

Q&A: Hubaal's editor talks about press in Somaliland

Editor Hassan Hussein, left, and Director Mohamed Ahmed relaunch their publication one day after the government lifts its suspension. (Hubaal)

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 its staff after a series of critical articles accusing the government of nepotism and misuse of office. Editor Hassan Hussein and Managing Director Mohamed Ahmed were both convicted on defamation charges last month and given prison terms. The two journalists were released on bail and are appealing their convictions.

Blog   |   Uganda

Filmmaker's arrest signals limits to Uganda coverage

Moments before his arrest, Taylor Krauss films damage to opposition leader Kizza Besigye's car by police. (Chimpreports)

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 and forth to the country for nine years. But now that he has been arrested, held for three days without charge, had his equipment confiscated, and finally forced out of the country, this probably marks his last visit. It probably also marks bad news for the press in Uganda.

Blog   |   Burundi, Gambia, Somalia, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe

A bid to rid Africa of criminal defamation, sedition laws

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, and insult--often relics of former, colonial administrations--to silence their critics in the press. "Criminal defamation laws are nearly always used to punish legitimate criticism of powerful people, rather than protect the right to a reputation," Tlakula said in a statement.

July 12, 2013 3:48 PM ET

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2013

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