Africa Censorship News

 2012

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  More newspaper seizures in Sudan...

An edition of Alwan confiscated


Link Here 18th November 2012  full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

Sudan flagSudanese security forces confiscated an edition of one of the country's oldest daily newspapers without giving a reason, its editor said, as authorities extended a crackdown on the media.

Hussein Khogali, editor of Alwan newspaper, said security agents confiscated the paper's Monday edition after it had finished printing, but did not say why.

What happened today inflicted serious material losses on us, especially with the current economic conditions in Sudan, and we don't know why, he said.

Alwan, seen as close to the country's Islamist movement, had been shut down in January this year.

 

  Renegade Colonel...

Radio station raided in DR Congo


Link Here 18th November 2012

DR Congo flagSecurity forces arrived at the offices of Radio Télévision Autonome du Sud Kasaï (RTAS), in the south central town of Miabi, on August 15 and forced the station off the air, according to local press freedom group Journaliste en Danger. The agents also confiscated the station's transmitter, JED said.

Placide Lufuluabo, news director of the station, told CPJ that when security forces came to the station, they already had the owner of the station, Fortunat Kasongo, in custody. Kasongo was one of five people that local authorities had arrested the day before on suspicion of being linked to renegade army mutineer, Col. John Tshibangu.

The station is still off the air, and Kasongo is still in custody, according to news reports and local journalists.

 

  Equatorial Guinea suspends critical radio programme...


Link Here 5th November 2012

Equatorial Guinea flagAuthorities in Equatorial Guinea indefinitely suspended a radio program on a government-controlled outlet during a broadcast that included criticism of the president of the Supreme Court, according to local journalists and news reports.

The show, Cultura En Casa , which covered local social issues and aired three times a week on RTVGE, was stopped on the order of Benjamin Mangue Micha, assistant director of the station, according to local journalists.

The show was broadcasting an interview with Teresa Mbasogo, a guest who had asked to speak on the air as a representative of 18 families seeking justice for the arbitrary demolition of their homes and confiscation of their land in Bata, the economic capital, in November 2011, according to news reports. Mbasogo had criticized Chief Justice Martin Ndgong Nsue in the interview for his alleged personal involvement in the dispute.

 

 Update: President Zuma's Uncensored Spear...

South African classification appeal tribunal revokes 16 age restriction on satirical artwork


Link Here 26th October 2012

The SpearEarlier this year the burning political issue in South Africa was a painting of President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed. Hs supporters mobilised a furious campaign to ban Brett Murray's painting The Spear .

At first the censors agreed, and classified The Spear as unsuitable for those under 16. But now they have reversed their decision, rejecting the argument that the artwork is offensive to African culture.

Prince Mlimandlela Ndamase, spokesman for South Africa's Film and Publication Board, said its appeal tribunal has set aside the classification decision .

The tribunal found that the classification board had been heavily influenced... by the need to affirm the dignity of African males and to protect sensitive persons and children . But there had been no evidence before the board that the painting would be harmful to children on the grounds that it seriously undermines and is insensitive to African culture .

The tribunal also upheld the classification board's finding that The Spear was not pornographic.

 

  Democracy Postponed...

Puntland police close Horseed FM


Link Here 23rd October 2012

Puntland flagPolice in the semi-autonomous Somalian region of Puntland closed the private broadcaster Horseed FM and ordered ISPs in the region to block the station's website, according to local journalists.

The strength of a free and democratic state lies in its diversity of information and its tolerance for critical views, said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. We call Puntland authorities to recognize these principles and immediately reverse their decision to silence Horseed FM and its website.

Local journalists told CPJ they suspected that a series of critical broadcasts Horseed FM had aired in September could have triggered the closure. Horseed FM had claimed that President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole was considering postponing the presidential elections scheduled for January 2013. According to local reports, Farole plans to extend his leadership for an additional year, corresponding with a new draft constitution that allows elected leaders a five-year presidential term.

 

  Print Control...

Two Ethiopian newspapers banned by the government after critical articles


Link Here 22nd October 2012

Ethiopia flagTwo weekly newspapers that have been critical of Ethiopia's ruling party have stopped publication because of government obstruction, the papers' publishers said.

The publishers are appealing to the country's newly appointed Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to intervene. A government spokesman claimed that the Ethiopian government is not telling printers not to print the papers.

Both Feteh , the country's largest weekly and Finote Netsanet , which is published by the largest opposition group, Unity for Democracy and Justice, have been unable to reach their readers for several weeks after the state-owned Berhanena Selam printing company refused to continue printing them.

We tried other printers, private ones as well. Some say they don't have the capacity while others first agree to print our paper only later to refuse us without any reasons, said Negasso Gidada, a former president of Ethiopia who now leads an opposition political party.

The group says its paper was forced off market after featuring critical articles on the legacy of Ethiopia's late leader Meles Zenawi, who died Aug. 20.

 

 Update: New Internet Censors...

Tunisia claims an end to repressive internet censorship policies known as Ammar 404


Link Here 17th September 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in Tunisia...Blogs and websites banned in Tunisia

Tunisia flag Government representatives in Tunisia have confirmed that the country has officially brought its repressive Internet censorship policies, known as Ammar 404, to an end.

According to Information and Communication Minister Mongi Marzoug this has been brought on by the recent revolution in Tunisia and the interim government will now try to promote access to information and freedom of expression. The launching of the country's National Forum of Internet governance will be the end of Ammar 404, he said.

Tunisia will also try to prove to the world that they have truly ended censorship as he presented the main objectives of the upcoming ICT4All conference to be held in Tunisia.

 

  Rivers of Prejudice...

Uganda charges British producer over gay stage play


Link Here 14th September 2012

river and mountain The authorities in Uganda have charged a British theatre producer, David Cecil, for staging a play about the condition of gay people in the country.

He appeared in court accused of disobeying lawful orders , because the play The River and the Mountain by Beau Hopkins was performed without authorisation. Cecil was denied bail.

The play, with the main character being a gay businessman killed by his own employees,  was performed at two theatres in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, last month.

Update: Hearing

5th December 2012. See  article from  indexoncensorship.org

Only days before the play was set to open in August, Cecil received a letter from the country's Media Council, the body tasked with regulation of media. It stated the play was to be suspended pending an official content review. Cecil and his company, under legal advice, interpreted this as a request rather than an order. Initially, the play was to run at the National Theatre, open to the general public but Cecil decided to move the production to private venues and eight performances were seen by an invited audience. Cecil was arrested after the short run, and branded a gay rights activist by an angry media.

Cecil's second hearing is taking place tomorrow. There, it will be decided if the prosecution have enough evidence to take the case to court. Cecil's legal team will argue that there were no references to any parts of the constitution or penal code in the letter from the Media Council. It did not refer to any legal consequences if they should choose to perform the play. Furthermore, Cecil says the Media Council is supposed to be an advisory body, it holds no executive authority over individuals' rights to express themselves.

A petition calling for the charges against Cecil to be dropped has been signed by more than 2,500 people, including Mike Leigh, Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig and Simon Callow. The petition was organised by Index on Censorship and David Lan, the artistic director of the Young Vic.

 

  No Voice No Choice...

Zimbabwe lawyers fight to overturn censor's ban on stage play


Link Here 11th September 2012

zimbabwe lawyers for human rights logo Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human rights (ZLHR) have petitioned the country's High Court seeking to overturn a ban imposed by the Board of Censors on a theatre play aimed at national healing and peace building.

The Board of Censors chairman only identified as Malaba last week banned the play No Voice No Choice written by prominent theatre practitioner Tafadzwa Muzondo, alleging that it was inciteful and against the spirit of national healing and reconciliation .

The ban will prevent the play's participation in the annual Intwasa Arts Festival which runs from 12 to 22 September in Bulawayo.

In the court application, the ZLHR lawyers, Tawanda Zhuwarara and Bellinda Chinowawa, want the high court to issue an order interdicting the Board of Censors of Zimbabwe and its functionaries from preventing the staging of the performance at any venue in Zimbabwe and permit Muzondo and his Edzai Isu Theatre Arts Project to perform the play at the Intwasa Arts Festival.

 

  Afeworki's Eritrea...

Eritrea's only independent radio returns after 3 weeks of downtime due to government jamming


Link Here 9th September 2012

radio erena logo Radio Erena (Our Eritrea), a Paris-based radio station that broadcasts to Eritrea, one of the world's most closed countries, and to the Eritrean diaspora, has been the victim of sabotage that prevented it from being carried by the Arabsat radio and TV satellite service for three weeks.

The sabotage took the form of a pirate transmission from within Eritrea that jammed Radio Erena's signal.

Launched by Reporters Without Borders in 2009, Radio Erena is the only source of independent news in the local language for Eritreans inside Eritrea and, as such, has been the target of the government's constant hostility. Reporters Without Borders said:

The fact that Radio Erena was off the air for more than three weeks is no trivial matter. The station plays a key role by offering impartial and responsible news coverage to an entire people that is otherwise deprived of this. Open to all participants in Eritrean life, whether from the opposition, civil society or the government, Radio Erena is now paying a high price for its independence.

Arabsat, the owner of the BADR-6 satellite that normally carries Radio Erena's signal, suspended the station on 14 August because of the pirate transmission that had just begun to interfere with its signal.

The interference began a day after Arabsat received an Eritrean government complaint claiming that, during an interview with Ethiopian information minister Bereket Simon, Radio Erena had incited its listeners to acts of violence against Eritrean government representatives.

This was a complete lie, as Reporters Without Borders explained when it provided Arabsat with a transcript of the interview. Let it be noted in passing that Eritrea's President Issaias Afeworki is one of the world's worst Predators of Press Freedom.

 

 Update: Repressed...

Sudan newspapers seized without explanation


Link Here 8th September 2012  full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

Sudan flagSudanese security forces confiscated the Sunday editions of two newspapers. Authorities confiscated copies of the independent al-Sahafa, one of Sudan's oldest dailies, after it had been printed, the newspaper's editor Alnoor Ahmed Alnoor said.

We consider the confiscation to be equal to an economic penalty on the newspaper, he said, adding the authorities did not give a reason for the seizure.

A security agent also went to the printing house of the al-Jarida newspaper after midnight and banned it from publishing, managing editor Idris al-Douma said. They confiscated every copy of the paper, he said.

He too said he was not given a reason why the papers were seized.

 

 Offsite Article: Speaking on the Unspeakable...


Link Here 6th September 2012
Blasphemy and the Tunisian Constitution by Monica Marks

See article from carnegieendowment.org

 

  A Climate of Intimidation...

Ivory Coast newspapers resume after a protest against state intimidation


Link Here 5th September 2012

Ivory CoastNewspapers allied with Ivory Coast's former ruler resumed publication this week, after observing a three-day moratorium to protest what editors and press freedom groups describe as a climate of intimidation.

The newspapers halted publication to protest an incident in which six men brandishing machetes and crow bars attacked the headquarters of a media house in Abidjan allied with ex-leader Laurent Gbagbo, who is now at the International Criminal Court awaiting trial on charges of crimes against humanity following last year's near-civil war.

On the night of Aug. 18, the attackers forced their way into the headquarters of the Cyclone Group, which publishes the pro-Gbagbo newspaper Le Temps, assaulted a security guard, ransacked office furniture and set on fire the first floor of the premises.

The six newspapers halted publication last Friday, and resumed on Monday, missing the Friday and weekend editions. Last week, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement calling on President Alassane Ouattara's administration to halt the censorship of critical publications and to investigate the Cyclone attack.

 

  A Stones Throw from Repression...

Tunisian sculptors charged over challenging exhibits


Link Here 5th September 2012

nadia jelassi Tunisia's authorities have arrested and charged two sculptors for creating works of art that are supposedly harmful to the public.

The two sculptors, Nadia Jelassi and Mohamed Ben Slama, could be imprisoned for up to five years for their works that were publicly displayed in the coastal town of La Marsa in June, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

Jelassi's work is of a veiled woman surrounded by stones evoking the scene of a stoning.

Ben Slama's work is of a child with ants streaming from its schoolbag that spells out the word Allah.

Their works drew public 'outcry'. Toward the end of the exhibition, two people and a court official told the owner of the hall where the exhibition was held to remove two pieces of art. There was also a campaign started on Facebook to remove the pieces, the organization said.

The night the exhibition ended, several works of art that had been exhibited in La Marsa were damaged by protesters before police sent them away. What followed were riots across the country over the art show, with protesters setting police stations, courts, and other buildings on fire, leaving one person dead.

 

 Updated: Puppet Rulers...

Tunisia unimpressed by TV satire directed at the government


Link Here 31st August 2012

sami fehriAn arrest warrant has been issued for Tunisian TV director and producer Sami Fehri, who launched Tunisia's Ettounsiya TV station.

Ettounsiya TV has recently gained notoriety, due to its political satire show, known as Logic Siyassi (Political Logic), which features puppets of politicians. The show garnered the appreciation of some citizens for its humor and free expression, while others felt that it exceeded the limits of what was proper, as the show was perceived by critics to have mocked people, who are considered national symbols.

In an interview with Tunisian radio station Express FM, Fehri asserted that his arrest was purely political. I did not see this coming...This is funny. Four puppets could put me in this situation, he said.

Fehri even mentioned that he had received a phone call from Lotfi Zitoun, the Tunisian Prime Minister's advisor charged with media reform. Lotfi Zitoun called me and told me that there is a big dissatisfaction with Ettounsiya, said Fehri.

Official news agency TAP said Fehri was being charged with illegal use of Tunisian state television resources during the rule of ousted president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.Fehri at that time had links with a media company close to Ben Ali's family.

Update: Jailed on Remand

31st August 2012. See  article from  jpost.com

The owner of a private television channel has now been jailed in Tunisia pending trial on 'corruption' charges.

Sami Fehri, who launched the channel in partnership with Belhassen Trabelsi, the son-in-law of former President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, handed himself over to the authorities after an arrest warrant was issued a few days ago. In an Internet video broadcast shortly before, he said the government was punishing for him for a comedy program on his channel that mocks symbols of power - thereby muffling the media and giving up gains made when Ben Ali was ousted last year.

Tounissia tv broadcast a satirical program called Political Logic which made fun of Tunisia's President Moncef Marzouki, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the ruling Islamic Ennahda party.

Fehri's defence lawyer told Reuters:

We believe that this is an attack on the freedom of expression. The issue is political and came after weeks of pressure on Fehri and the airing of the program on the channel.

 

 Update: Dangerous Humour...

Somali comedian murdered


Link Here 3rd August 2012  full story: Sharia in Somalia...Somalia adopts sharia law

Somalia flagOne of Somalia's most popular comedians, known for his parodies of Islamist militants, has been shot dead in the capital, Mogadishu.

Abdi Jeylani Marshale was reportedly killed shortly after leaving a local radio station where he worked as a drama producer and performer.

It is not known who carried out the murder but last year Marshale was threatened by the extremist group al-Shabaab, prompting him to go into hiding in neighbouring Somaliland for several days.

 

  Ethiopia blocks newspaper story about prime minister's illness...


Link Here 2nd August 2012

Ethiopia flagEthiopian authorities blocked the publication of a prominent independent newspaper over the weekend in connection with its stories on the health of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, according to local journalists.

The state-run printing company Barhanena Selam told the weekly Feteh early Sunday that the government had ordered that week's edition of the paper, about 30,000 copies, to be blocked on grounds of inciting national insecurity and endangering the government and the public, local journalists said. The paper had prepared pieces citing reports from the BBC and the exiled opposition group, Ethiopian National Transitional Council, local journalists said. A government spokesman did not return CPJ calls seeking comment.

News accounts have reported that Meles has been hospitalized in Brussels with an undisclosed condition.

The ban on Feteh's latest issue illustrates the depth of repression in Ethiopia today, and authorities' determination to suppress independent coverage of the prime minister, CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes said: Every citizen has a right to be informed about the well-being of their leader and the conduct of their government. Authorities should reverse their decision and allow the publication of Feteh's weekend edition to proceed.

 

 Update: Cartoonists Get Under Zuma's Foreskin...

South Africa's president continues to be the nub of cartoon jibes


Link Here 7th July 2012

by zapiro zumas a big dickSouth African President Jacob Zuma is still the butt of penis jokes because of his penchant for sex.

The African National Congress' Women's League is upset over the latest cartoon that appeared in Friday's Globe and Mail. They condemned Zapiro's cartoon featuring Zuma looking decidedly like a big dick looking at himself in a mirror. He was depicted in the Goodman Gallery where Brett Murray's The Spear was exhibited. This was another image alluding to Zuma's well used appendage.

The cartoon carried the ditty:

Though sex is his publicised sport,
Zuma took the dick painting to court,
Suing Brett's free expression,
Confirmed the impression,
He's a big a dick as we thought.

The ANC Women's League said:

The Zapiro cartoons rely on their shock value to make an impact, but calling the president of this great nation a 'dick' is unacceptable and the [league] would like to know who the 'we' he is referring to in the cartoon actually is, as the majority of the population who voted for the president clearly did not think this of Zuma.

The ANC is now demanding an apology from Jonathan Shapiro and the newspaper remove it from its site. However the editor-in-chief Nic Dawes said:

We have no plans to remove the cartoon.

 

  No Point Continuing...

Tunisian organisation charged with reducing media censorship disbands citing government censorship


Link Here 5th July 2012

inric logoThe independent Tunisian authority charged with reforming the media has announced that it had shut down after failing to achieve its objective, accusing the Islamist-dominated government of censorship.

The body does not see the point in continuing its work and announces that it has terminated its work, said Kamel Labidi, who heads the National Body for the Reform of Information and Communication (INRIC). Labidi said:

The body warns of the gravity of the situation in the realm of information and accuses the government of reverting to forms of censorship and disinformation.

Since this government came to power, we have noticed the absence of concrete measures to reform the (media) sector.

INRIC was created after the revolution that overthrew president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January last year to reform the media sector, and particularly state media organs, to guarantee Tunisia's previously restricted press freedom.

 

 Updated: Nando's Diversity...

South African TV advert banned after pointing out that nearly the entire population is of foreign origin


Link Here 28th June 2012

nandos immigartion advert video South African broadcasters e.tv and DStv have withdrawn a new Nando's commercial following refusal by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).  The SABC has refused to air the advertisement, citing xenophobic undertones .

The commercial opens with foreign nationals illegally crossing the South African border, followed by a voice-over that says: You know what's wrong with South Africa? It's all you foreigners.

It then shows foreign nationals including Chinese, Indians and even Afrikaners disappearing in puffs of smoke. Finally, the only person left is a traditional Khoisan man who says he's not going anywhere.

Fast food chain Nando's, which is known for its controversial marketing campaigns, said it was shocked at the decision and planned to ask the broadcasters to reconsider. It argued that the advertisement depicted South Africa's rich ethnic and cultural diversity and was meant to show the absurdity of xenophobia.

The commercial was initially aired both on e.tv and across DStv channels, and is still available on social network websites.

Thabang Ramogase, marketing manager at Nando's, said after being informed that e.tv and DStv had banned the ad:

We think it is short-sighted and we stand by the advertisement. The responses the ad has generated online have been overwhelmingly positive and show that South Africans get the message.

Chris Hitchings, media sales CEO at DStv, said the pay-TV broadcaster was concerned that the advertisement could be misunderstood:

While we understand that the commercial is a parody, we are not convinced that all our viewers will interpret it in the way intended, he said. We have a responsibility not to broadcast material that could be deemed offensive to our viewers and we have exercised our rights in this regard.

Leon Grobler, dispute resolutions manager at the ASA, South Africa's advert censor, said the organisation had received a handful of complaints about the advertisement. Its review will take about a month.

Update: South African ASA rejects whinges about the Nando's advert

28th June 2012. See  article from  mybroadband.co.za

Pay-TV broadcaster DStv has lifted its ban on fast-food chain Nando's new advertisement that broadcasters initially refused to air due to its xenophobic undertones.

The commercial had been banned by both DStv and e.tv after they initially aired it earlier this month, days after the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) rejected it on the grounds that it could be misinterpreted and perpetuate xenophobia and even violence.

Satellite television network TopTV, however, said that it would air the controversial advertisement. Its decision came after the Advertising Standards Authority of SA (ASA) dismissed complaints it received from viewers and ruled that the advertisement did not contravene any of its codes.

See article from asasa.org.za

advertising standards authority south africa logo The ASA Directorate is satisfied that this advert falls within the parameters of hyperbole and/or harmless parody as allowed for by a clause in the code. This clause states that Obvious untruths, harmless parody or exaggerations, intended to catch the eye or amuse, are permissible provided that they are clearly to be seen as humorous ... This is also in line with the respondent's reputation for poking fun at topical issues and current affairs.

What's more, the commercial is clearly contrasting the voice of xenophobia (who starts the commercial off with mention that ... all you foreigners should just ... go back to where you came from ), with the voice of reason , who explains that REAL South Africans (our emphasis) love diversity. This carries the implied message that the initial voice of xenophobia does not speak for Real South Africans.

In addition to this, if one views the entire commercial, it becomes apparent that the xenophobic voice and opinion is ridiculed and made to be irrational, because the point is made that all nationalities found here (save for the Khoisan) were once foreigners .

Put simply, the respondent juxtaposes the xenophobic view that what's wrong with South Africa is all you foreigners with the rational and reasonable view that what's wrong with South Africa is actually all you xenophobes . This is done in a tongue-in-cheek manner, and the ending voice-over explains that REAL South Africans love diversity .

For the above reasons, the Directorate is satisfied that the commercial does not contravene the provisions of the Code. The complaints are accordingly dismissed.

 

 Update: Moroccan blogger jailed...


Link Here 20th June 2012  full story: Blogging in Morocco...Bloggers under duress in Morocco

  Blocking Tor and Skype...

Ethiopia introduces introduces several new censorship measures


Link Here 19th June 2012

Ethiopia flag Ethiopia's only ISP, state-owned Ethio-Telecom, has just installed a system for blocking access to the Tor network, which lets users browse anonymously and access blocked websites.

This new law and the possibility that a Deep Packet Inspection system has been installed mark a turning point in the Ethiopian government's control of the Internet, Reporters Without Borders said. We fear that DPI will be misused for surveillance purposes by a government that already subjects the political opposition and privately-owned media to a great deal of harassment.

We urge the Ethiopian authorities not to install this filtering system and, as we already said when The Reporter news website was blocked, we share the view of the United Nations special rapporteur for freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, who recommended in a June 2011 report that restrictions to the flow of information online should be limited to 'few, exceptional, and limited circumstances prescribed by international human rights law'.

Use of VoIP hardware and software has also just been made a crime by the new Ethiopian Telecom Service legislation, which was ratified on 24 May. Anyone violating this provision could be sentenced to up 15 years in prison. The authorities claimed the ban was needed on national security grounds and because VoIP posed a threat to the state's monopoly of telephone communications.

At the same time, the state-owned printing presses are demanding the right to censor the newspapers they print. Reporters Without Borders is very worried by these attempts to reinforce government control of news and information.

In a proposed standard contract for printing recently circulated by state printers, they assume the right to vet and reject articles prior to printing.

This contract could drag Ethiopia back more than two decades as regards media freedom, to the time of Mengistu's brutal dictatorship in pre-1991 Ethiopia, Reporters Without Borders said. Allowing printers to control editorial content is tantamount to giving them court powers. On what basis do these state-owned companies assume the right and independence to interpret the law? Does this reflect a government desire to suppress all criticism before it is voiced?

If this standard contract is adopted, we fear it could lead to widespread self-censorship, which is already very common, and to media subservience towards the government. Criticism, independence and media diversity would all suffer, and the vitality of Ethiopian democracy would suffer as well.

It should be noted that, a few days after spotting that access to the Tor network was being blocked in Ethiopia, the Tor Project posted a message on its blog explaining how to circumvent the blocking.

 

  Malawi repeals law allowing government to censor news it didn't like...


Link Here 9th June 2012

 Update: Revisiting a Painful History of Repression...

South Africa's censors give The Spear a 16 age rating


Link Here 2nd June 2012  full story: Satirical Art in South Africa...Paintings wind up South Africa's president

spear by brett murray South Africa's media censors at the Film and Publication Board have given The Spear painting a 16N rating.

FPB chairperson Thoko Mpumlwana said:

Any persons or entities wishing to publish and exhibit images and/or replicas of this specific artwork will in future have to put in place mechanisms to regulate access to this piece of art by members of the public below the age of 16.

FPB CEO Yoliswa Makhasi said the board understood the image of the painting had gone viral, but urged youths to delete copies of it.

When asked how this image differed from other nude artworks, FPB chief operations officer Mmapula Fisha said Murray's painting was not just a piece of nude art:

The artwork has forced society to revisit its painful history. The classification had to balance this and artistic merit

 

31st May   

Updated: No Dignity in Censorship...

Portrait of Joseph Zuma winds up the African National Congress
Link Here  full story: Satirical Art in South Africa...Paintings wind up South Africa's president

spear by brett murray South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) plans to take an art gallery to court over a satirical depiction of President Jacob Zuma.

The painting titled The Spear (Umkhonto we Sizwe) depicts Zuma in an authoritarian pose with his gear hanging out. The ANC has labelled the work by artist Brett Murray an insulting depiction of the president and says it violates his constitutional right to privacy and dignity.

The party is demanding that the Goodman Gallery, where the painting is on display, takes it down. It has also asked the City Press newspaper to remove a photograph of the work from its website.

Goodman Gallery curator Liza Essers tweeted:

It is a sad day for South Africa when creative production is being threatened with censorship from our ruling party.

Update: Presumably State Censorship

23rd May 2012. See  article from  dailymail.co.uk

Two 'state censors' wielding cans of red and black paint walked into Johannesburg's Goodman gallery and daubed an X over South African President Jacob Zumat's groin before smearing paint over his face. The controversial painting draws attention to Zuma's genitals and his reputation for promiscuity.

The painting by Brett Murray entitled The Spear has been on display since early this month, but made the news only last week when it came to the attention of South Africa's governing African National Congress party.

Zuma filed an urgent application at the South Gauteng High Court for an order to have the portrait removed from the gallery and photographs of it taken off the City Press newspaper website.

Both the gallery and the newspaper refused on the grounds it would be censorship. The matter was set to be heard today.

Update: Newspaper under duress

29th May 2012.

See  article from  guardian.co.uk
See  article from  guardian.co.uk

city press South Africa's ruling party, the ANC, has called for a boycott of the City Press newspaper after it published a picture depicting President Jacob Zuma in a Leninist pose with exposed genitalia.

The ANC has demanded that the Sunday paper remove the image entitled The spear of the nation from its website.

It has called on advertisers not to buy space in the paper and on people not to read it until the publishers comply with its demand.

In calling for the boycott, the ANC described the paper as a paragon of immorality which does not belong to our shared democratic dispensation and values . It was therefore anti-ANC, the president, our democracy and the majority of South Africans.

The paper published a copy of Murray's painting column 10 days ago to accompany a review of the art exhibition in which it was displayed.

The Guardian's Roy Greenslade said that he included a copy of the picture as an act of solidarity with City Press.

Later the City Press bowed to the pressure and removed the painting from its website. Editor Ferial Haffajee wrote:

We take down the image in the spirit of peacemaking -- it is an olive branch. But the debate must not end here and we should all turn this into a learning moment, in the interest of all our freedoms.

Of course, the image is coming down from fear too. I'd be silly not to admit that. The atmosphere is like a tinderbox: City Press copies went up in flames on Saturday; I don't want any more newspapers burnt in anger.

Meanwhile in court

See  article from  iol.co.za

Lawyers for President Jacob Zuma will have to refine their arguments over how the High Court in Johannesburg will implement a ban on the controversial artwork, The Spear, since the image has already gone viral.

While on one hand, advocate Gcina Malindi delivered a compelling argument about the classist nature of the painting, and how it was an insult to Zuma, he appeared to falter when asked how the court would police a court order making the image unlawful and unconstitutional.

The ANC, along with Zuma and his children have called on judges to go beyond interdicting the Goodman Gallery and the City Press newspaper from displaying the portrait.

Since Brett Murray's painting of Zuma with his genitals on display first appeared in the newspapers two weeks ago it has been replicated, copied, lampooned and photographed. It has also been carried on international news websites, Facebook and Twitter.

Judge Kathree-Setiloane put it to Malindi that the image is already out there , while Judge Claassen said an apology from the gallery, City Press and artist Brett Murray, can be monitored while it would be near-impossible to police a declaration of unlawfulness in the digital age. What happens when the image is downloaded from various other websites? Would that be a transgression? Claassen asked.

Update: Gallery Removes Painting

31st May 2012. See  article from  bbc.co.uk

A South African art gallery has agreed not to display a controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed after reaching a deal with the ANC. The painting has sparked fierce debate about the balance between freedom of expression and the right to dignity.

Under the deal, the ANC has agreed to drop its legal action demanding that the gallery remove the painting from its exhibition and the website.

Hundreds of ANC supporters protested outside the gallery on Tuesday.

Update: Censors get involved

31st May 2012. See  article from  iol.co.za

south africa film and publication board logo The online version of the famed The Spear painting will be classified by the Film and Publications Board.

The Goodman Gallery's defence team had asked for the dismissal of the case against it because, advocate Matthew Welz said, the painting no longer existed.

But the censors insisted the online version still existed to pose problems for children and sensitive people. The board's chief operations officer, Mmapula Fisha, who chaired proceedings, said: We will still classify the painting as is our duty to children. Online content cannot be looked at in isolation.

After deliberations, the board agreed it had no jurisdiction over the same image in the City Press newspaper, and said the complaint would be escalated to the ombudsman: We accept that the print media self-regulation body needs to deal with this. But a decision on how to classify the online picture of the painting would be made within two days.

Meanwhile the Democratic Alliance party has reacted with disbelief at the Film and Publications Board's decision to classify the artwork. DA justice spokeswoman Dene Smuts said the board appeared to be scraping the bottom of the barrel in its attempts to find grounds for restricting the distribution or display of The Spear . It was in fact measurably the result of the ANC's attempts at censorship that images of the painting had gone viral.

 

15th May   

Printing Press Censors...

Ethiopia's printers take new role as state news censors
Link Here

Ethiopia flag In late April, Ethiopia's state-owned Barhanena Selam (Light and Peace) Printing Company, which is used by most local newspaper publishers, issued a directive saying it would refuse to print any material it believes would breach Ethiopia's 2009 anti-terrorism law

The legislation criminalizes independent reporting on opposition groups or causes that the government deems terrorist and holds printers, as well as publishers, accountable for material that promotes terrorism.

The directive, a copy of which CPJ obtained, allows Barhanena Selam the right to cancel any printing contract if the publisher repeatedly submits content the printer considers legally objectionable.

Barhanena Selam said it would require all newspaper publishers to agree to the new terms before further publications would be printed.

Local journalists said there haven't yet been interruptions to printing even though not all newspapers have signed.

 

4th May   

Update: Animated to Repression...

Tunisian TV boss fined for showing the controversial film Persepolis
Link Here  full story: Persepolis Banned...Iran tries for worldwide ban of movie Persepolis

persepolis godjpg A Tunis court's decision to fine a TV boss for spreading information which can disturb the public order after he screened an animated French movie is a sign of the continuing erosion of free speech in Tunisia, Amnesty International said.

Nabil Karoui was fined 2,400 Tunisian Dinar ($1,500) after his station broadcast the animated French film Persepolis dubbed into Tunisian Arabic dialect in October 2011. The film was criticized for being blasphemous because of a scene showing a representation of God.

Karoui's lawyers have confirmed that he will be appealing the verdict.

On a day that is meant to celebrate world press freedom, Tunisia has shown its failure to respect the basic right of freedom of expression. Nabil Karoui should not have been tried to begin with, let alone found guilty for exercising his right to peacefully express his views , said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa programme.

Two others have also been found guilty of participating in the crime: Nadia Jamal, head of the organization that dubbed the movie into Tunisian dialect, and Alhadi Boughanim, responsible for monitoring programs. Both have also been fined.

While protecting public morals or public order may sometimes be a legitimate reason for restricting freedom of expression, such restrictions may only be imposed if absolutely necessary. This is clearly not the situation in these cases -- people should not be convicted and sentenced for their views, even if these views are seen as controversial or offensive, said Ann Harrison.

 

14th April   

Police Censorship...

Sudan's press suffers state censorship and economic sanctions
Link Here

Sudan flag Sudanese authorities have a long history of closing newspapers and silencing journalists. But the government security agents who carry out official censorship have launched a new strategy this year that focuses on economic impoverishment--leaving newspapers more vulnerable than ever.

Agents of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) now raid printing presses and confiscate newspapers on grounds that publications are covering topics barred by the NISS. The agency's red lines are numerous, changeable, and ungoverned by law or judicial order. The NISS demands, for example, that newspapers abstain from covering the International Criminal Court, government corruption, human rights violations, Darfur, the war in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, armed movements, and many other subjects.

In the past, the NISS would censor publications in advance by dispatching agents to newsrooms. Officers would read the newspaper in full and order articles be taken out and replaced. In many cases, they would reject the replacement articles too, and halt the printing of the newspaper entirely. The officers would oblige editors to sign a pledge not to publish the censored articles elsewhere, notably online.

The new goal: Censor newspapers and force them to incur heavy financial losses. Agents, for example, have confiscated copies of the newspaper Al-Maidan on several occasions, among them February 21, and March 13, 15, 17 and 18. The newspaper said it lost thousands in revenue each time the printed copies were confiscated.

It's worth noting that the president of the National Council for Press and Publications, the government body officially charged with overseeing newspapers, said in an interview with a local news outlet that the NISS exercises full control over the press. Even his agency is powerless due to NISS encroachment.

 

10th April   

Dangerous Rap...

Moroccan jailed on remand over song lyrics criticising the political situation
Link Here

megaz el haked The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemns the arrest of rapper and activist of the 20 February movement, Megaz El Haked, by the Moroccan security forces on March 29 claiming that one of his songs is offensive to a public institution.

El Haked was summoned for interrogation on a charge of offending a public authority by a Casablanca Cour. In one of his songs, El Haked criticized the political situation in Morocco, which authorities considered a defamatory insult against public officials. The activist jailed on remand to stand trial on 4 April.

It is worth noting that this is not the first time that El Haked has been arrested for his songs. He was imprisoned for four months on trumped-up charges before being released in January 2012.

El Haked's arrest for the content of his songs for the second time is unacceptable and is a clear violation of freedom of expression, which includes freedom of creativity and art, stated ANHRI: Freedom of expression is an inherent right and no one should be punished for expressing his opinions, whether that was critical of the system or not.

ANHRI calls upon the Moroccan authorities to immediately release El Haked and ensure that peaceful free expression is protected.

Update: Still Jailed

20th April 2012.  See  article from  hrw.org

Moroccan authorities should drop charges and release a rapper who has spent three weeks in pretrial detention on charges that he insulted the police in his songs and a video set to his music, Human Rights Watch said today.

Police arrested Mouad Belghouat, known as al-Haqed (the sullen one), on March 29, 2012, because of a YouTube video with a photo of a policeman whose head has been replaced with a donkey's. The lyrics denounce police corruption.

The offending material cited in the case file consists of a rap song Belghouat composed and recorded, entitled Kilab ed-Dowla (Dogs of the State), and a YouTube video containing a photo-montage set to the song. The song denounces police corruption with lines like, You are paid to protect the citizens, not to collect people's money and take it to your chief.

 

7th April   

Severe Censorship...

Victims of Tunisian 'justice' jailed for 7 years over Mohammed cartoons
Link Here

Tunisia flag Tunisian authorities have sentenced two young Facebook users to seven years in jail after they published cartoons of Mohammad on the social network.

Tunisia's 'justice' ministry says that the duo posted images showing Mohammad naked which, according to spokesperson Chokri Nefti, saw them punished for violation of morality, and disturbing public order.

One of the men, Jabeur Mejri, is already incarcerated while police are actively seeking the other, Ghazi Beji, who was sentenced in absentia.

Local blogger Nebil Zagdoud told Reuters that the sentences are very heavy and severe, even if these young people were at fault. This decision is aimed at silencing freedom of expression even on the Internet. Prosecutions for offending morals are a proxy for this government to gag everyone.

Tunisia is still on Reporters without Borders' list of countries under surveillance despite attempts by the newly formed government to distance itself from tactics used by its predecessors.

Update: Appealling

3rd June 2012. See  article from  english.alarabiya.net

A court hearing of the appeal of a Tunisian young man sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison for publishing cartoons of Prophet Mohammed is set to resume, according to one of his lawyers.

We made a request for our client's medical assessment because we want to prove that he suffers from psychological problems, Bochra Bel Haj Hamida, told AFP, adding that the court will respond to their request. In any case, we are going to ask for a dismissal of this case, she said.

Update: Appeal Fails

26th June 2012. Based on article from  minivannews.com

A Tunisian appeals court has upheld the 7-year sentence for the man convicted of blasphemy for posting Muhammad cartoons on Facebook.

Jaber Majeri was convicted March 28 for posting images of the religious character purportedly being intimate with one of his wives. He was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison and fined $800.

Update: Appeal cancelled

27th April 2013. See  article from  uncut.indexoncensorship.org

Tunisia's Court of Cassation failed to review the seven-and-a-half year sentence of Jabeur Mejri, who was convicted last year of publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad on Facebook. Mejri's lawyer, Mohammed Mselmi, told AFP that the demand for an appeal was mysteriously withdrawn , even though a hearing had been scheduled on 25 April.

The defence team will now seek a presidential pardon for their client.

Update: Set to be released

29th January 2013. See  article from  indexoncensorship.org

The imprisonment of Jabeur Mejri over the publication of prophet Muhammad cartoons on his Facebook page is set to come to an end soon, reports Tunisian local media.

Mohamed Attia, vice-president of the Tunisian League for Human Rights (LTDH) told privately-owned radio station Shems FM that Mejri will soon be released, and that he will travel to Sweden where he has allegedly obtained political asylum. The announcement comes after civil society groups visited Mejri in prison on 21 January.

The initiative was led by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and included representatives from the LTDH, the Tunisian Forum for Socio Economic Rights (FTDES) and Mejri's support committee.

Mejri has been in prison for nearly two years for posting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on his Facebook page. He was sentenced to a seven-and-a-half year jail term for publishing material liable to cause harm to public order or good morals , insulting others through public communication networks and assaulting public morals .

Update: Released

6th March 2013. See  article from  abcnews.go.com

The lawyer for a Tunisian blogger sentenced to seven years in prison for posting cartoons deemed insulting to the religious character Muhammad says her client has been freed.

Amid international and local outcry, President Moncef Marzouki pardoned the 29-year-old Mejeri on Feb. 19, however authorities at first kept him in prison pending new charges of embezzlement by a former employer.

 

1st April   

Confirming the Repressive Reputation of the King of Swaziland...

Swaziland is finalising law to ban criticism of the king
Link Here

Swaziland flag Swaziland is planning a censorship law that will ban Facebook and Twitter users from criticising its autocratic ruler, King Mswati III.

Mswati's 'justice' minister, Mgwagwa Gamedze, told the Swazi senate: We will be tough on those who write bad things about the king on Twitter and Facebook. We want to set an example. He said that t he government is finalising a law that will make it illegal to insult the king on social networks,

The move follows comments last week by the Swazi senator Thuli Msane over how online activism was spiralling out of control and threatening the king's reputation.

Networks such as Facebook and Twitter have been used to organise public protests, including a student demonstration against cutbacks in higher education.

Pius Vilakati, spokesman for the Swaziland Solidarity Network, condemned the planned crackdown. The government is desperate right now. They are trying anything to stop people talking to each other, he said. It would be difficult for them, because people will always talk and continue to talk.

 

26th March   

The Not So Democratic Republic of Congo...

Television station attacked after criticism of provincial government
Link Here

DR Congo flagA private television station in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been raided by unidentified men.

Radio Television Kindu Maniema (RTKM) who broadcast from the capital of Maniema province was attacked by a group of men, who set fire to the station's satellite antenna, and damaged the station's offices.

Programme presenter Mira Dipenge went into hiding five days ago, fearing he would be arrested following orders from the governor of the province, Tutu Salumu.

In early February, Salumu ordered station management stop broadcasting call-in programmes in which callers could criticise his management of the province.

 

19th March   

Vetting a Repressive Press Censorship Law...

South African Constitutional Court considers whether newspapers and magazines need to submit to state censorship prior to publication
Link Here

south africa constitutional courtCompelling South Africans to obtain approval before they could tweet, Facebook or blog on anything relating to sexual conduct would silence all online expression on the topic, the Constitutional Court has heard.

The court is considering the legality of amendments to Section 16 of the Film and Publications Act requiring that newspapers, magazines, and maybe even online news websites are vetted by state censors prior to publication.

The Home Affairs minister and the Film and Publications Board, supported by the organisation, Justice Alliance of SA, are seeking to uphold the sections of the Film and Publication Act that the South Gauteng High Court previously found to be inconsistent with the constitution.

The act came into force in March 2010, but is now being examined by the court.

Print Media SA and the SA National Editors Forum believe large numbers of publications will have to be submitted to the Film and Publications Board in matters of substantial public interest. It will have severe negative consequences for the publication in terms of deadlines, and for the public.

An argument submitted by an organisation called Section 16, argued that this would mean that even cartoons such as Zapiro's series on the rape of lady justice, or an arbitrary blogger's observations on a report that a politician was caught with a prostitute, would have to be pre-classified.

The parties are also questioning why newspapers were given an exemption, because they fall under the self-regulatory system of an ombudsman and a Press Code, but not magazines.

Legal counsel for the home affairs minister told the Constitutional Court that publications that fell outside those regulated by the press code would have to submit content for classification ahead of publication, and this did not amount to censorship.

Under the act, publication without approval is a criminal offence and could lead to imprisonment for up to five years.

The act was supposedly intended to protect children from exposure to and involvement in inappropriate content, especially sexual content.

 

18th March   

Montage of Repression...

Police raid Angolan weekly after president gets easily offended by satirical photo montage
Link Here

folha 8 logoThe Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned the Angolan police raid at the independent weekly Folha 8, which was conducted in connection with a politicized investigation into the publication of a satirical photo montage. Officers confiscated all of Folha 8's computers, effectively crippling the operations of one of the country's two remaining independent publications.

In an interview with news agency LUSA, Folha 8 editor William Tonet said the raid was connected to a public prosecutor's December 2011 criminal investigation into the paper's re-publication of an Internet photo montage lampooning President Jose' Eduardo dos Santos, the Vice President and the military adviser to the president. No formal charges in the investigation have been filed, but the newspaper's computers could be used as evidence against them in the case, local journalists told CPJ.

The seizure of Folha 8's computers is a crude act of censorship meant to silence one of the few remaining independent news outlets in Angola, said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. Satire is not an outrage against the state--it's an important part of robust debate in a free society. We call on authorities to return Folha 8's equipment at once and put an end to this politically motivated investigation.

 

16th March   

Update: Dangerous Exposure...

Journalist threatened with torture for reporting on FGM in Liberia
Link Here  full story: Stop FGM...The nasty world of female genital mutilation

Liberia flagThe Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Liberian authorities to ensure the safety of journalists who have been repeatedly threatened for exposing the practice of female genital mutilation in the country.

Mae Azango, a reporter for the daily FrontPage Africa and New Narratives, a project supporting independent media in Africa, told CPJ she had gone into hiding after receiving several threats for an article she published about Liberian tribes practicing female genital mutilation on as many as two out of every three girls in the country. They left messages and told people to tell me that they will catch me and cut me so that will make me shut up, Azango said: I have not been sleeping in my house.

Wade Williams, the editor of FrontPage Africa, said that several people around town had confronted her over the article, which was widely discussed on radio programs. Williams also said that the newspaper and its personnel were receiving threatening phone calls: They said that for us putting our mouth into their business, we are to blame for whatever happens to us.

Liberian police must immediately investigate these threats and ensure the safety of Mae Azango and other FrontPage Africa staff, said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita: The people behind these threats seem to be secure that they can act with impunity. Authorities must send a clear message that threats of violence are crimes, and that they will uphold the law.

 

9th March   

Updated: Grabbing the Headlines...

Tunisia puts editor on remand to face obscenity charges for sexy but modest celebrity picture on the front page of his newspaper
Link Here

gq sami khedira embracing naked modelReporters Without Borders calls for the immediate release of Nasreddine Ben Saida, the publisher of the Arabic-language daily Attounissia, and the withdrawal of all charges against him, the newspaper's editor, Habib Guizani, and one of its journalists, Mohammed Hedi Hidri.

The first media executive to be jailed in the post-Ben Ali era, Ben Saida has been held since 15 February, when he, Guizani and Hidri were arrested by the vice squad on the prosecutor-general's orders for printing a photo of German-Tunisian football player Sami Khedira embracing a topless model so as to hide the nudity on the front-page of that day's issue, which was seized from newsstands.

Guizani and Hidri were released after being questioned, but a judge ordered Ben Saida placed in pre-trial custody on charges that carry a possible sentence of six months to five years in prison and a fine of 120 to 1,200 dinars (60 to 600 euros).

By bringing criminal charges, the prosecutor's office is showing that journalists can still go to prison for a newspaper article and is sending an extremely disturbing signal to all those who defend freedom of expression.

This is a hypocritical reaction because photos of this kind often appear on the cover of foreign magazines sold in Tunisia, Reporters Without Borders said.

Update: Fined

9th March 2012. See  article from  independent.co.uk

A Tunisian court has fined a newspaper publisher for supposedly violating public morals by printing a photograph of a footballer's girlfriend shown naked but mostly obscured.

Nasreddine Ben Saida was fined 1,000 dinars ( £ 420) and the court ordered all copies of the issue destroyed.

Critics called the case an attack on media freedom.

 

2nd March   

Update: Predatory Censorship...

Morocco bans newspaper from including an extract from a French book about the king of Morocco
Link Here  full story: Royal Censorship in Morocco...Law puts the Moroccan king above comment

Le Roi predateur Catherine Graciet The International Publishers Association is speaking out after authorities in Morocco banned the Spanish-language daily newspaper El Pai's from distributing its February 26 issue because of an excerpt it featured from the French book Le Roi predateur (The Predator King).

The book, written by Catherine Graciet and Eric Laurent, offers a critical look at the King of Morocco, and is being published in France by the French house Le Seuil.

The IPA is calling the cancelation of the paper in Morocco an act of censorship. IPA member Olivier Betourne, said:

By prohibiting the issue of the El Pais daily, which included excerpts of The Predator King, the Moroccan authorities go against the wind of freedom which is currently blowing in the MENA region. Not only does IPA condemn the censorship of the Spanish daily, it also urges Morocco to authorize the distribution in Morocco of The Predator King.

 

28th February   

Blowing her Top...

Malawi minister gets wound up by local and modest version of the Sun's Page 3
Link Here

weekend times action girlMalawi Information Minister Patricia Kaliati is aging a nutter war with local tabloid, Weekend Times , with its Page 8 Action Girl that depicts sexualised images modestly reminiscent of Page 3 of The Sun in the UK.

Kaliati, speaking at the launch of the Malawi Child Protection and Gender Media Network, is reported to have condemned the Weekend Times Page 8 girls , describing it as pornographic and misogynistic.

What a shame! she screamed: How would you feel to see your daughter or sister exposed like that?

She called on journalists to campaign for the removal of Page 8 from Weekend Times.

 

28th February   

Update: Bugged by Police Censors...

Sudan authorities seize newspapers claiming bugging of opposition politicians
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

Sudan flagThe entire print-run of two Sudanese newspapers have been seized by The National Intelligence and Security Services.

Al-Tayar and Al-Youm Al-Tali newspapers 20th February editions were confiscated after they published statements made by Hassan al-Turabi the leader of the Popular Congress Party (PCP). Turabi alleged that his office had been wiretapped by security services, and showed journalists some of the listening devices he found. Security agents arrived at the newspaper's Khartoum offices and seized the expose edition.

Twenty newspaper reporters protested the confiscation in front of the National Press Council, which licenses newspapers.

 

27th February   

Dangerous Friends...

Zimbabwe court orders caning for insult on Facebook
Link Here

Zimbabwe flagA teenager will be beaten with two strokes of a cane for calling a woman a prostitute on Facebook, a Zimbabwe court has ruled.

The 17-year-old, is believed to be the first in the country to be punished for making such a comment on the site.

The boy admitted using his mobile phone to photograph a woman talking on the phone without her knowledge before posting it on Facebook He then posted the photo online with a caption saying she was a typical Chiredzi prostitute , in the local Shona language.

The woman saw the photo as the pair were friends on Facebook and called police, who arrested the boy. His Facebook page has now been removed.

Magistrate Tinashe Ndokera found the boy guilty of criminal assault . He ordered him to be caned twice.

 

26th February   

Will Surely be Accused of Blasphemy...

Tunisian president acts against those making accusations of blasphemy
Link Here

Tunisia flagTunisian President Moncef Marzouki has called on parliament to outlaw accusations of blasphemy as a threat to public order.

Such practices can threaten the peace between citizens living in the same country and lead to conflict, Marzouki warned in a statement. Violators of the new law should be prosecuted to protect the coexistence, fraternity and solidarity among Tunisians, he said.

Nobody has the right to make such accusations against a fellow citizen because such behavior risks leading to violence which is reprehensible in itself, Marzouki added.

Salafist extremists have accused Tunisian journalists and other public figures of not following the teachings of the Koran. They have also demanded full-face veils for female university students, castigated a TV channel for an allegedly blasphemous film and beat up journalists at a protest.

 

19th February   

Update: Dangerous Caricatures...

Morocco bans Spanish newspaper over a caricature of King Mohammed
Link Here  full story: Royal Censorship in Morocco...Law puts the Moroccan king above comment

cartoon morocco king keyholejpgMorocco has banned the distribution of Thursday's edition of Spain's El Pais newspaper, as a cartoon published by the newspaper allegedly tarnished King Mohammed VI's name.

The decision to ban (the paper) was made on the basis of article 29 of the press code that protects the monarch, a senior communication ministry official told AFP: The caricature contains a deliberate intention to smear the (king's) image to harm the king personally.

The cartoon, which was picked up by a Moroccan website, accompanied an article by Spanish journalist Ignacio Cembrero. Contacted by AFP, Cembrero said the Moroccan reaction surprised him as the small cartoon was friendly and rather likeable .

 

16th February   

Update: Hanging on to Freedom...

Tunisian court appeal trying to prevent the country slipping back to bad old ways of internet censorship delayed
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Tunisia...Blogs and websites banned in Tunisia

Tunisia flagA court hearing of a case regarding censorship of pornographic websites in Tunisia has been postponed to February 22nd, confirmed Olivia Gre, director of the Tunisian chapter of Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Last year, a lawsuit was filed by three Tunisian lawyers, who found free access to pornographic websites in Tunisia to be dangerous to children and corrosive of Islamic values. The court's decision sided with the lawyers, yet the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI) appealed the ruling on May 26th. On August 11th, 2011, the appeal was denied, but the ATI delayed implementing the decision, pleading technical and financial limitations.

They appealed the decision again, to Tunisia's Supreme Court, prolonging the legal debate as to the acceptable extent of internet freedom.

On February 3rd, RSF released a statement, entitled Internet Filtering: Risks to Stepping Backwards , in which it argued that blocking porn sites in Tunisia could mark a prelude to the return of old censorship practices of the previous regime. The statement recommended that internet providers promote tools of parental control.

Update: Blocking Blocked

23rd February 2012. See article from tunisia-live.net

The Tunisian Internet will remain unblocked, for the time being. The Supreme Court of Tunisia has cancelled the decision of a lower court, which had previously ruled in favor of blocking pornographic content on the internet.

The decision did not end the case, but sent it back to a lower court, giving an apparent vote of no confidence in the legal argumentation previously presented.

The decision was immediately hailed by free speech advocates and by the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI). The ATI's legal argument against the suit, however, did not hinge upon issues of civil liberties, but rather the technical ability of the agency to implement the decision. According to a press release distributed by the ATI this afternoon, all attempts of application of judgment led to serious degradation of service.

Olivia Gre, director of the Tunisia office of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said: For us, it's definitely good news. It means not taking a step backwards . According to Gre, the trial would begin from scratch, with new legal arguments to be employed in two to three months.

 

16th February   

Update: The King is Inviolable...

Moroccan sentenced to 3 years in jail for criticism of the king
Link Here  full story: Royal Censorship in Morocco...Law puts the Moroccan king above comment

marocco lese majeste video On Monday, a court in the Moroccan city of Taza sentenced 24 year-old student Abdelsamad Haydour to 3 years in jail and a fine of USD 1,200 for criticizing the king of Morocco in a video posted on YouTube. According to the official state news agency, Haydour is accused of attacking the sacred values of the nation.

According to one Moroccan news website Haydour had no legal assistance during the hearing and the Court did not appoint a lawyer to defend the accused in accordance with the Moroccan law.

Under Moroccan law the king is considered inviolable. But the Moroccan constitution also guarantees (Article 25) freedom of thought, opinion and expression in all its forms.

The incriminating four-minute clip was posted in early January, during a week of social unrest and violent clashes between demonstrators and anti-riot police in the unemployement-stricken city of Taza. In the video, Abdelsamad Haydour is seen talking to a group of people in the street, harshly criticizing the king and his entourage.

 

15th February   

Update: Observing Censorship...

Le Nouvel Observateur magazine banned in Morocco
Link Here  full story: Persepolis Banned...Iran tries for worldwide ban of movie Persepolis

le nouvel observateurThe Arabic Network for Human Rights Information condemns the Moroccan authorities for their confiscation of the last issue of the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur due to its publishing of an image adopted from the French-Iranian film Persepolis .

The mentioned issue of the magazine was supposed to be distributed on 2 February 2012 and addressed Persepolis, an animated film about the suffering of an Iranian family following the Iranian revolution in 1979, forcing the family to travel to France. Persepolis seems to have offended by a depiction of the muslim god as an old man. 

 

29th January   

Update: No New Dawn for Tunisia...

Tunisia is set for another court hearing in a legal action demanding a block on porn websites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Tunisia...Blogs and websites banned in Tunisia

Tunisia flagOnce again, in the post Ben Ali era, censorship and freedom of speech (or lack of), is at the centre of debate. The reason this time is the ongoing saga of a legal action lodged by three lawyers against the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI)) calling upon it to block pornographic websites.

Early next month, the ATI, will appeal to the Court of Cassation's (the highest court of appeal) verdict issued on May 26, 2011, by a court in Tunis ordering the agency to block access to pornographic content on the web.

The ATI, which lost an appeal on August 15, 2011, claims that the filtering of pornographic websites listed by Smart Filter could not be carried out for the five Internet service providers.

The Tunisian Internet Agency, wanting to put an end to its old image as an Internet censor during the rule of Ben Ali, prefers to raise the awareness of Internet users, and especially parents by giving them practical tips on the use of parental control software instead of blocking websites.

 

28th January   

Updated: Top Speed...

TopTV wants to go ahead with its porn channels without waiting for the heel dragging TV censors to give approval
Link Here  full story: Satellite Sex in Africa...MultiChoice consider adding porn channel

toptv logoSouth Africa's Independent Communications Authority will take legal action against TopTV should the pay-TV broadcaster continue with its plan to launch three porn television channels within the next few weeks.

On Digital Media, the company that owns TopTV, said last month it would go ahead with the launch of the channels early this month despite Icasa's objections.

It argued that the TV censor had not responded to its application in the required three months and TopTV was therefore legally entitled to go ahead.

However, Icasa last week maintained that it was illegal for TopTV to proceed with the launch until the regulator had finalised the application process.

If TopTV goes ahead with the launch we will have no option but to obtain an interdict to stop them. We are waiting for their response to our queries, Icasa spokesman Paseka Maleka said. He added a public hearing on the issue would be held within the next two weeks. Icasa would rule on whether or not it would grant TopTV's application for the three new channels by the end of the month.

Update: Court prevents porn starting before the TV censor has finished deliberating

17th January 2012. See  article from  mybroadband.co.za

The South Gauteng High Court has granted the  Independent Communications Authority of South Africa an urgent interdict to stop a satellite TV operator rom going ahead with its proposed porn channels. The company must now wait on the deliberation by the TV censor.

TopTV wants to introduce a standalone porn package of channels Adult XXX, Private Spice and Playboy Europe.

The TV censor's public hearings into the licence application by On-Digital Media, owner of Top TV, have now begun in Sandton, Johannesburg, where the year-old operator was not represented despite being invited to respond and make presentations.

The misleadingly named Freedom of Expression Institute, African Christian Democratic Party and the Film and Publication Board have all opposed the launch.

Freedom of expression is not a pre-eminent right, and especially not when it infringes on children's rights to be protected from harm, spouted Pearl Kupe, on behalf of the Christian Action Network: Putting in pin-blocking functions presents very little challenge to the increasingly techno-savvy generation, and I know this being a mother.

The African Christian Democratic Party said it was impossible to build a strong nation with dysfunctional families , and producers and distributors of pornography had shown contempt for family values .

Freedom of Expression Institute's executive director, Elston Seppie, said the right to freedom of expression was about balance, ...BUT... the right of children, women and family values should take precedence.

Update: Inevitably Banned

28th January 2012. See  article from  xbiz.com

TopTV has lost its bid to provide South Africa with its first-ever paid adult satellite programming.

South Africa's TV censor, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has refused to allow the company to broadcast softcore Playboy Europe , and hardcore Private Spice and Adult XXX channels.

ICASA spokesperson, Paseka Maleka said the censor would release the reasons for the denial wihtin the next 30 days.

In a letter to Reuters, ICASA said, We advise that the Council of the Authority ... decided, after careful consideration, to refuse On Digital Media (Pty) Ltd's application for the authorization of (the proposed) video channels.

Update: Inevitably Delayed

2nd March 2012. See  article from  mybroadband.co.za

ICASA said it would provide grounds for its decision within 30 days, or by 27 February 2012.

However the TV censor did not deliver its justification by the deadline, telling MyBroadband that the reasons are yet to be approved by ICASA Council in the next week or so.

They are currently being vetted by ICASA Legal Department and will therefore be released after approval by Council, explained ICASA spokesperson Paseka Maleka.

 

26th January   

Update: Animated to Violence...

Violence outside trial of TV boss who aired Persepolis in Tunisia
Link Here  full story: Persepolis Banned...Iran tries for worldwide ban of movie Persepolis

Persepolis DVD Catherine Deneuve Violence broke out outside the Tunisian courthouse where TV executive Nabil Karoui was on trial for blasphemy.  Extremists attacked the people rallying in his support.

Karoui, the owner of a television station in Tunis, is charged with violating sacred values and disturbing public order for airing Persepolis , the award-winning animated film about the 1979 Iranian revolution that depicts God as a bearded old man.

The attackers believe that the film violates Islamic values forbidding the depiction of God.

Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali has condemned the most recent violence and affirmed his commitment to freedom of expression. But as the trial is continuing then affirmation is not worth much.

The trial has been adjourned until April 19.

 

21st January   

Censored by 100 Policemen...

Somaliland TV station closed down
Link Here

horn cable tv logoReporters Without Borders is worried by events of the past week affecting the media in the breakaway northwestern territory of Somaliland, in which a total of 25 journalists were arrested and a television station, HornCable TV, was closed in Hargeisa, the territory's capital. The organization accuses the authorities to trying to intimidate the media and calls for the release of four journalists still being held illegally.

This wave of arrests of journalists is without precedent in Somaliland, Reporters Without Borders said. We are disturbed by this crackdown and by the president's readiness to brand a media as a 'nation destructor.' This will further intimidate journalists who already have to cope with tough conditions in this region of Somalia. We urge the authorities to free the four journalists still being held and to reopen HornCable TV without delay.

When HornCable TV employees demonstrated outside the presidential palace in Hargeisa in protest against the station's closure, they were attacked and beaten by members of the Somaliland Special Protection Unit and eight of them were arrested. Thirteen other journalists from various media who went to help their detained colleagues were then also arrested. HornCable TV's owner was summoned to the president's office later and interrogated. The detained journalists were finally released after being held for more than 24 hours.

HornCable TV was closed on 14 January when around 100 policemen arrived in seven armoured vehicles, ordered all the staff to leave and sealed the doors. The transmitter was disconnected soon afterwards.

 

13th January   

Nutter Objects Thwarted...

South African advert censor dismisses complaints about Playboy billboard
Link Here

tracy mcgregor advertSouth Africa's Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that a Tracy McGregor billboard in Johannesburg was harmless.

The advert censor dismissed complaints that the billboard depicted women as objects for sexual gratification , degrades the dignity of women and encourages sexual promiscuity .

Tracy McGregor, the 2008 FHM Sexiest Women winner, is shown on the billboard wearing black stilettos and black lace underwear, with one arm over her head. Next to her are the words: Playboy Playmate Parties and the Playboy SA website address is given below.

But a handful of motorists and residents were less than titillated. One said that the billboard promotes pornography and that he was uncomfortable having to explain such images to his young nieces and nephews.

In its response, Playboy SA said the magazine carried far tamer content than some magazines on local shelves, and suggested that those who were offended should focus on the message detergent adverts sent to society about women.

And it seems the advertising body agreed, saying in its ruling that Playboy had chosen not to gratuitously depict a lustful, sexual image . The billboard is not overtly sexual and imagery of a seductively dressed woman is a product relevant to the advertiser.

 

11th January   

Not So Democratic Republic of Congo...

DRC closes down Radio France Internationale over 'unappreciated' election coverage
Link Here

rfi logoAuthorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) shut down broadcasts of the French government-funded Radio France Internationale (RFI) over its coverage of the violent aftermath of the November 2011 presidential elections.

ommunications Minister Lambert Mende said the Council of Ministers had ordered the temporary measure of switching off RFI's six FM broadcast frequencies until the Congolese Broadcasting and Communications Superior Council, the new state-run media censorship agency, had issued a decision. The government did not at all appreciate the way RFI attempts to trivialize the anti-constitutional comedy of Tshikedi, Mende told Agence France-Press.

This decision is part of a pattern of closures to punish Radio France Internationale whenever it reports independently on political news in the DRC, said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. We call on the Congolese media regulatory agency to break with this pattern of political censorship and reverse the decision immediately.

RFI is the most popular news station in the DRC, according to CPJ research.

 

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