President Barack Obama is expected to address a range of topics when he arrives in Kenya tomorrow. The Kenyan government says it plans to discuss security and trade, while opposition parties and civil society want good governance and human rights added to the agenda, according to news reports. We hope the discussion includes the commitments to improve press freedom that the Kenyan government made to CPJ last week.
On July 15, we released our special report, "Broken Promises: How Kenya is failing to uphold its commitment to a free press," in Nairobi to a room full of more than 50 Kenyan and foreign journalists. The report found that a combination of legal and physical harassment, as well as concentration in media ownership, is making it increasingly difficult for journalists to work freely in Kenya.
Rwanda's progress towards a more liberal media environment has been short-lived.
In May Fred Muvunyi, the head of the Rwanda Media Commission, fled the country for fear of being detained or attacked, and the country's telecommunications regulator suspended the operation agreement for the BBC's Great Lakes radio service indefinitely.
On Tuesday, less than a week after receiving an award for his journalism from the London-based freedom of expression group Index on Censorship, veteran journalist Rafael Marques de Morais will stand trial in Angola on charges of criminal defamation.
South Africa is synonymous with crime in the eyes of many--as evidenced by the recent mugging of a TV crew live on camera--but for the press, a more sinister threat to freedom lies in the growing number of cases where it is the police, in flagrant denial of their orders, who intimidate and threaten journalists, forcing them to delete photographs of police on the job.
"We'll see for ourselves on Friday," was a refrain on the lips of most journalists I met in Lusaka in mid-September, as they speculated on the health of President Michael Sata ahead of their country's opening of parliament, where the leader was due to speak.
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.
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.
Journalists and media owners across Africa gave Ethiopian journalist Woubshet Taye a standing ovation in Cape Town on Saturday night at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2013, but he wasn't there to see it. Instead his wife and son accepted the Free Press Award on his behalf.
Part of the citation for the award reads: "Ethiopia is a jewel in the African crown for its beauty, its people, its history and, most recently, for its astonishing growth rates. It is the judges' view that journalists like Woubshet Taye and his colleagues Reeyot Alemu and Eskinder Nega should be out of prison and working to build the prosperity and the freedom of a new Ethiopia. The judges make this award in recognition of Mr. Taye's work and in solidarity with his condition."
The charges leveled against a Zambian journalist suspected by authorities of being linked to the blocked news website Zambian Watchdog make for interesting reading.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.