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Africa Censorship News


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13th December   

Update: The Good News...

Blogger arrested in Morocco after reporting clash between students and police
Link Here

Moroccan blogger Bashir Hazem was arrested on December 8, 2009 after posting a press release about a clash between students and police on his blog. He has been interrogated about his blogging, specifically his most recent post, which contained the signatures of a committee of arrested students.

Hazem was detained and put in solitary confinement for a period of time, then rejoined the other detainees in the prison.

A Facebook group [ar] has been created to support blogger Bashir Hazem, who has been detained in Goulmim prison in the south of Morocco for publishing a statement about the intervention of the police force against an inhabitant of the Goulmim, on his blog Al Boushara ( the good news ).

According to the President of the Moroccan Bloggers Association, Internet cafes in the city are being monitored in order to prevent Internet users from disseminating information about the event, and to prevent riots. The authorities have also arrested others suspected of spreading news about the protests, including an Internet cafe employee, for possessing protest materials and flyers.

Hazem will face trial on Monday, December 14, 2009.


14th November   

Violating the Ethics of Journalism...

Gabon suspends 6 newspapers over election articles
Link Here

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the suspension of six private newspapers by the government-controlled media-monitoring body, the National Communications Council, in Gabon. The council announced the suspensions, which range from one to three months, on Tuesday evening on state-run TV. The papers have been suspended for violating the ethics of journalism and inciting ethnic divisions according to local reports.

This unprecedented suspension of the private press is intended to silence any potential critics of the election process, said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. The council should immediately lift all of the suspensions.

All the suspended publications had written articles critical of what may have been a flawed election process, local journalists told CPJ.

The papers received immediate suspension sentences. Nku'u Le Messager and Le Crocodile were suspended for one month, Le Scriboullard, L'Ombre, and La Nation for two months and Echos du Nord received a three-month suspension. Two other private publications, Le Temps and Gabon d'Abord received a warning to maintain professional standards, according to local journalists.


29th October   

Update: Flagging up Censorship...

Morocco bans French and Spanish papers reprinting 'offensive' cartoons
Link Here
Full story: Royal Censorship in Morocco...Law puts the Moroccan king above comment

Morocco blocked distribution of an edition of leading Spanish daily newspaper El Pais after it reprinted cartoons deemed disrespectful to the royal family, the newspaper said. Morocco also blocked distribution of editions of the French newspaper Le Monde over the cartoons.

Moroccan authorities accused the newspapers of attacking the monarchy with the publication of the cartoons.

One of the cartoons is by Le Monde's star cartoonist Plantu and it depicts a hand reaching out of a Moroccan flag to create a child-like drawing of a funny face wearing a crown.

The other is by Moroccan caricaturist Khalid Gueddar and it alludes to the 25 September wedding of Prince Moulay Ismail, a cousin of King Mohammed VI, to a German convert to Islam.

The Federation of Journalist Associations in Spain said it deplored the distribution ban slapped on El Pais, saying in a statement it was regrettable that the Moroccan ministry of communication had opted for censorship .


27th October   

Update: The Morocco Star...

The Morocco newspaper cartoon that wasn't found so funny
Link Here
Full story: Royal Censorship in Morocco...Law puts the Moroccan king above comment

On Sept. 28, 2009, the government ordered Akbar el Youm silenced, shuttered its offices in Casablanca, and posted policemen at its entrance to prevent any of the newspaper's 70 employees from reaching their desks.

The reason? This cartoon by Khalid Gueddar, published on Sept. 26:

It's Moulay Ismail on his nuptial truss, says the line in Arabic. Moulay Ismail is a cousin of Mohammed VI. He got married to a German woman recently. The faintly Hitlerean pose of the cartoon is gratuitous and vulgar. The Moroccan ministry of the interior didn't like the cartoon. It called it anti-Semitic for the way it portrayed the Moroccan star apparently as a Star of David.

The ministry then displayed its own anti-Semitism when it charged that the depiction of the national star as a Star of David was an outrage to the flag. The cartoon, the ministry charged, also lacked respect for the royal family --which, in Morocco, must be respected more than humor, truth or justice, as the cartoon case proved: Khaled Gueddar and his editor, Toufik Bouachrine, now face three to five years in prison. Moulay Ismail, the nuptialized prince, is claiming $400,000 in damages.


19th October   

Update: Failing Health...

Morocco press freedom on the decline
Link Here
Full story: Royal Censorship in Morocco...Law puts the Moroccan king above comment

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) strongly condemns the decision of a Rabat court to imprison the managing editor of Al-Michaal newspaper for one year.

A Rabat misdemeanor court sentenced Driss Chahtan to a year in jail and Al-Michaal journalists Mostafa Hiran and Rashid Mahameed to three months in prison and a 5,000 dirham (US$655) fine each for intentionally publishing false information in a number of articles about King Mohamed VI's health, local journalists told CPJ.

The paper's lawyers walked out of the hearing on October 8 to protest procedural violations and the court's failure to abide by basic standards for a fair trial, they said.

Immediately after the court ruling, around two dozen policemen stormed the Casablanca-based offices of Al-Michaal and arrested Chahtan, journalists told CPJ. Lahbib Mohamed Haji, one of the newspaper's lawyers told CPJ that the arrest violated the country's penal code, saying that the public prosecutor had no legal basis to request the imprisonment after the court issued its decision.

Haji said he has appealed the ruling. Neither Hiran nor Mahameed have been detained.

These jail terms are part of a disturbing trend of repression of critical journalism in Morocco, said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. The government has failed to keep its repeated promise to reform restrictive press legislation and a politicized judiciary. We call on the appeals court to overturn these convictions. Meanwhile our colleague should be released on bail.

Update: Banned

21st November 2009. See article from

Moroccan newspaper Al-Michaal was banned on 13 November after editor in chief Driss Chahtan was sentenced to one year in prison and a 10,000 dirham fine as punishment for his articles about the health of King Mohamed VI.


4th October   

Update: Police Cartoon Censors...

Morocco newspaper closed over royal wedding cartoons
Link Here
Full story: Royal Censorship in Morocco...Law puts the Moroccan king above comment

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the closure of a Moroccan independent daily amid an escalating government campaign to silence critical journalists.

On Tuesday, police prevented Taoufik Bouachrine, managing publisher and editor of the daily Akhbar al-Youm, and dozens of staff members from entering the offices of the Casablanca-based newspaper.

The sudden move followed a statement from the Ministry of the Interior accusing the independent daily of blatant disrespect to a member of the royal family for publishing in its September 26-27 weekend edition a cartoon on a strictly private wedding ceremony organized by the royal family. Prince Moulay Ismail, the cousin of King Mohamed VI, was married in a ceremony that, though private, had generated considerable interest and coverage in local newspapers.

Police detained and interrogated Bouachrine and cartoonist Khaled Kadar for more than 24 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday in Casablanca, lawyers told CPJ. Lawyers told CPJ that the allegations against Akhbar al-Youm are groundless and that the Ministry of the Interior has no legal authority to shutter a newspaper unilaterally. Article 77 of the Moroccan Press Law goes only so far as to authorize the ministry to ban a single issue of a periodical deemed disrespectful to the royal family.

We urge King Mohamed VI to order an immediate end to the arbitrary siege of Akhbar al-Youm and to immediately back the right of our colleagues to do their job without police or judicial harassment, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. The time has come for a regime that constantly pays lip service to democracy to turn the page on abusing the law to settle scores with critical journalists.

Blatant disrespect to a member of the royal family

Based on article from

The cartoon, published September 26-27, 2009 by the daily, is a blatant disrespect to a member of the royal family, said a statement by the Ministry on Monday.

In addition to tendentiously using the national flag, the cartoon undermines a symbol of the Nation by insulting the emblem of the Kingdom, the statement said, adding that the use of the Star of David in the cartoon raises many questions on the insinuations of the people behind it and suggests flagrant anti-Semitic penchants.

In light of the elements at hand, the Interior Minister has decided, in accordance with the laws in force, to sue and seize the daily, and to take the appropriate measures concerning the paper's equipment and premises, the document said.

In the same vein, Prince Moulay Ismail has decided to take legal action concerning this issue.


29th September   

Ethics and Rules...

Kenya defines enforceable TV content rules
Link Here

A major battle looms between the Kenya Government and broadcasters over new regulations seeking to take back licenses and vet programmes.

By far the most ambitious attempt at shaping broadcasting in Kenya, the new rules basically follow modern trends, with the regulations seeking to determine broadcast content, technology, advertising, ownership and public interest issues.

Until now, programme content has been left to self-regulation. Broadcasting content has basically remained in the realm of codes of ethics observed by the Media Council of Kenya and editorial guidelines constructed by individual media houses.

The point of departure in the draft broadcasting regulations are rules on content that appear to be not only too intrusive but also prescriptive. Offensive language, blasphemy and sexual matters presented explicitly will no longer be a matter of codes of practice, but will be offences punishable by the regulator.


29th September   

Update: Democracy Benefits...

Sudan lifts press censorship law
Link Here
Full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

As Sudan prepares for the first general elections in decades, President Omar al-Beshir lifts censorship on the press.

As of today, censorship is over and journalists have complete freedom, said a presidential decree carried by the official SUNA news agency.

Head of the country's Press Council, Ali Shimo, said the pre-censorship system was called off after editors, journalists' associations and censors signed an ethics code for practicing journalism.

Up to now, a group of government-led sensors screened newspapers every night before hitting the stands to purge them of sensitive articles despite a law guaranteeing freedom of the press .

Under the law, passed in parliament in June, the press were granted freedom but banned from provoking religious or ethnic or racial sedition or calling for war or violence, while respecting and protecting public ethics, religious values and those found guilty of violating the press law had to pay a fixed penalty set by the courts. But in practice, the law was impractical and the censors continued their job.

The new press law and lifting of censorship will only be applied to the written press and not to television.


28th September   

Update: Flogging Porn...

Jail and flogging for looking at porn on mobile phone
Link Here

The new administration of southern seaport town of Kismayo  has publicly punished three boys they said that they have committed crimes which are taboo in Somalia.

Each one of the boys has received lashes of whips on his back in front of the hundred of the inhabitants of Kismayo, at the national park venue which situated in the heart of the town and will serve under sentence for some months said the judge who passed out the chastisement of the boys speaking to Somaliweyn radio.

The officer added that the boys have been jointly watching pornography films in their cell phones.

Comment: Reality Porn

29th September 2009. From Alan

Hope somebody's filmed it. It would go down a storm on the gay BDSM porn market!


20th September   

Updated: What's Eating these People?...

Supporting the hype for District 9
Link Here

Nigerian immigrants play a large part in the film District 9 – taking the roles of gangsters, prostitutes or witch-doctors. They are depicted eating alien flesh or having sex with the creatures. Many Nigerians are furious.

An internet backlash is under way with an online petition and a Facebook group, District 9 Hates Nigerians accusing the film of xenophobia.

One blogger, Nicole Stamp, wrote: That's Hollywood's Africa, isn't it. Black Africans shown as degenerate savages who'll have sex with non-humans and are pretty damn eager to eat people. Disgusting.

There was further criticism yesterday from the Nigerian-born British actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim, who appeared in the films Hotel Rwanda and Wolverine . On Facebook, he wrote: If the African continent truly wants to be liberated, we cannot sit back and allow this depiction of a 'few rotten apples' to be spread across the world. He expressed concern that District 9 would reinforce negative stereotypes of all Africans. The manner in which the Nigerians are depicted cannot be justified.

Update: Nigerian government demands ban on District 9

Thanks to Nick & Dan
20th September 2009. Based on article from

Nigeria's government is asking its cinemas to stop showing the science fiction film, District 9 , that it says denigrates the country's image.

Information Minister Dora Akunyili told the BBC's Network Africa programme that she had asked the makers of the film, Sony, for an apology. She says the film portrays Nigerians as cannibals, criminals and prostitutes.

An actor from the film said that it was not just Nigerians who were portrayed as villains. The Malawian actor, Eugene Khumbanyiwa, plays a gang leader with the nickname of Obasanjo, also the surname of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The film is about alien refugees who set up home in a South African shanty town called District Nine. It is a loose allegory about apartheid and recent violence by South Africans against foreigners.

Akunyili said it clearly took aim at Nigerians: We feel very bad about this because the film clearly denigrated Nigeria's image by portraying us as if we are cannibals, we are criminals, she said: The name our former president was clearly spelt out as the head of the criminal gang and our ladies shown like prostitutes sleeping with extra-terrestrial beings.

The information minister said she had ordered the Nigerian film and video censors' board to ask all cinemas to stop showing the film and to confiscate it. I have also formally written to Sony Pictures Entertainment, the company that produced this film, demanding an unconditional apology for this unwarranted attack on Nigeria's image, she added.


9th September   

Pre-publication Censorship...

Draconian new media law in South Africa
Link Here

Journalists, editors and publishers not recognised by the South African press ombudsman and not adhering to its code of conduct face the prospect of being jailed for five years or a fine, or both, if they fail to submit their copies or material prior to publication or broadcast, exhibition or distribution to the Films and Publications Board (FPB) for approval.

This is according to the newly-signed Films and Publications Amendment Act 3 of 2009.

The aim is to check if the material contains sexual conduct which violates or shows disrespect for the right to human dignity of any person, degrades a person, constitutes incitement to cause harm, advocates propaganda for war. The FPB also wants to ensure that the material is free from inciting violence or advocating hatred based on any identifiable group characteristic.

The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) says it is disappointed by the signing of bill into law, calling it problematic and adding that it violates section 16(2) of the Constitution. FXI acting executive director Melissa Moore said last week: “The Amendment Act constitutes a grave intrusion of the right to freedom of expression. To this end we are of the view that certain sections of the Amendment Act fail dismally in giving effect to the right to freedom of expression.

The most intrusive element of the act is that, under the guise of the ‘protection of children's rights' the legislature has introduced a system of pre-publication censorship and self-censorship which offends against the letter and spirit of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

The act also introduces a new offence in SA law, Moore said, requiring that anyone who knows of, suspects or has reason to suspect, that an offence has been or is being committed under the provisions of the Act to furnish the police with a full report of such knowledge or suspicion, failing which such person shall be guilty of an offence.


2nd September   

For Football and For Children...

South Africa looks to emulate China and ban all porn
Link Here

South Africa's Department of Home Affairs said it's developing an inter-departmental protocol to shield kids against child porn in time for the country hosting the 2010 World Cup next June. While details are vague, the DHA's Deputy Minster Malusi Gigaba is advocating an extremely hard-line approach to the issue:

South Africa should explore an outright ban on pornography in the public media as is the practice in countries such as China and India, Gigaba stated in the Department's announcement. He further vowed to approach the South African Law Reform Commission with a request to investigate and make recommendations on instituting the ban.

The increase of access to technology and mobile internet, with all its benefits, also poses risks such as creation and distribution of child pornography, Gigaba stated: We need to be proactive in protecting children against this heinous crime.


22nd August   

Kenya: Too Horrific Even for an Adult...

Film censors horror film
Link Here

By banning the Jitu Films production Movie entitled Otto -The Bloodbath horror movie the Kenya Film and Censorship Board effectively made it a best seller.

Many people are searching online to purchase the movie that is set to premier at Oxford University next week and later at the Rwanda Film Festival! What is perhaps fascinating is that the foreign market is readily embracing a movie that has been banned locally for allegedly being too horrific even for an adult & having too much blood scenes, further the movie was said to feature too many dead human characters.

The plot of the movie is about a family torn between selling off their fathers land against the patriarch's wishes. The children of the man's first wife refuse to obey his wish and decide to bury him at the Langata Cemetery in Nairobi so that they can kick the second wife and her mute son out and enjoy the proceeds. That s when the horror begins....


12th August   

Rebelling Against News...

Ethiopia tries to get Kenya to censor news report on separatist rebels
Link Here

Last week, the Ethiopian government tried to force private Kenyan broadcaster Nation Television (NTV) to drop a four-part exclusive report on separatist rebels in southern Ethiopia. NTV aired the first two parts of Inside Rebel Territory: Rag-Tag Fighters of the Oromo Liberation Front, which led Ethiopia's ambassador to Kenya to accuse the Nation Media Group of giving a platform to a terrorist organization. The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) is fighting for greater autonomy for the Oromos, the largest ethnic group in the south of the nation.

Clearly, officials at the Ethiopian Embassy did not want NTV to air this program. We repeatedly explained to them that this is not possible, Linus Kaikai, NTV's managing editor of broadcast news told me today. The Kenyan Foreign Affairs Ministry was also involved in attempting to get the station to drop the story, he said: No demands have been agreed to, Kaikai added, saying that the final two parts will air this week.

Ethiopia recently enacted draconian anti-terror legislation, which criminalizes any reporting the government deems favorable to groups and causes it labels as terrorist. In other words, reporting the activities or statements of such groups could be interpreted as glorifying or aiding their causes.


9th August   


Gambian journalists jailed for criticising president
Link Here

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the highly politicized court verdict against six independent journalists in the capital of the Gambia, Banjul.

Judge Emmanuel Fagbenle sentenced the journalists to two years in jail and heavy fines on six counts of sedition and criminal defamation, local journalists told CPJ. Failure to pay the fines will lead to an additional two years in jail.

The six journalists, working for two private newspapers--The Point and Foroyaa--had republished a June 11 press union statement criticizing President Yahya Jammeh's comments regarding the unsolved 2004 murder of Point editor Deyda Hydara.

According to the union, the six will be held at Mile Two Prison in Banjul while the defense files an appeal in the Gambian Court of Appeal.

President Jammeh has managed to nail the coffin shut for press freedom in the Gambia by arresting some of the last remaining independent journalists in the country, said CPJ's Africa program coordinator, Tom Rhodes: CPJ condemns this politicized judgment against these six Gambian journalists. Their sentencing reflects a partisan judicial system controlled by the president.

Update: Released

8th September 2009. See article from

The Committee to Protect Journalists is relieved about the release of six prominent Gambian journalists on Thursday after President Yahya Jammeh pardoned them.


6th August   

Update: Free Speech Held to Kings Ransom...

Even positive comment is banned about the Moroccan king
Link Here
Full story: Royal Censorship in Morocco...Law puts the Moroccan king above comment

Two Moroccan magazines have been banned for publishing an opinion poll of the King in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of his rule.

All issues of Arabic-language weekly magazine Nichane and its French-language sister publication Telquel were seized by the Interior Ministry.

The Interior Ministry ordered the seizure of the issues of Telquel and Nichane following the printing of articles that violate the law, the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

The seized issue of Telquel featured King Mohammed VI on its cover with the words The People Judge Their King emblazoned on his image.

The magazine conducted an opinion poll asking readers what they thought of the last ten years of King Mohammed VI's rule, and the results were overwhelmingly positive.

The poll showed that 91% of Moroccans are satisfied or very satisfied with the king's performance.

An editor of Telquel told French media that authorities told the magazine it was unacceptable in principle” to publish an opinion poll about the king, which is why the issues were seized.

Rights organization Reporters Without Borders said that while there have been significant improvements in press freedom in the past ten years, extreme censorship is still prevalent.  In the past ten years, according to the organization, Moroccan journalists have been sentenced to a total of 25 years in jail and news organizations have been fined a total of 2.8 million dollars.

The fundamental problem is this, a popular blogger Larbi wrote: In Morocco the king governs, he is the head of state, and the chief executive. But at the same time he is a sacred person. So whoever wants to talk about Moroccan politics finds himself in this dilemma: how do you speak about the actions of a head of state that presides over the destiny of 30 million Moroccans when the law punishes those who speak of, and violate his sacredness?


9th July   

Update: Tunisia Spreads Rumours about Repression...

Tunisian woman jailed for 8 months for writing about child abduction on Facebook
Link Here

A court in Tunis has condemned a retired professor, Dr Khedija Arfaoui, to eight months in prison for spreading rumors, on the social networking website Facebook, supposedly liable to disrupt public order.

Dr Khedija Arfaoui, a feminist retired professor was accused of spreading a message on Facebook about the rumor of 5 children being abducted from school in Tunisia. Recent rumors that children have been abducted and trafficked in Tunisia have been circulating for some months and have reached epidemic proportions with many parents concerned that their kids will be kidnapped, despite an official denial by Tunisia's Minister of Interior during a press conference.


30th June   

Morocco Undignified...

Morocco fines 3 newspapers for criticising Gaddafi
Link Here

A Casablanca court heavily fined three top Moroccan newspapers for publishing critical articles on Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi.

Freedom of the press landed the three local newspapers al-Jarida al-Aoula , al-ahdath al-Maghribia , and al-Massae in hot water after they published articles criticizing Kadhafi, prompting the Libyan leader to sue them for libel.

The court fined the dailies three million dirhams ($374,129), an amount far less than the 90 million dirhams Kadahfi initially filed for when he accused the papers of attacks on the dignity of a head of state.

Five of nine staff members from the three dailies were each fined 120,200 dirhams ($15,000).

The National Union of the Moroccan Press staged a demonstration following the trial outside the Casablanca court as the Moroccan press union strongly condemned the court's verdict, warning that it encouraged press censorship.

In its statement released immediately after the verdict, the union expressed support for the three newspapers, and said heads of state must learn to take criticism from the press and allow for dialogue with the media instead of seeking using the law to quell freedom of press.

Anouzla, head of al-Jarida al-Aoula vowed to continue his critique of the Libyan regime and said he would appeal the verdict.


25th June   

Censorship Strife...

South Africa's video game classification guidelines
Link Here

The classification of video games in South Africa falls under the control of the Film and Publications Board (FPB).

Under the cheery banner, Striving to make the life of every child better without making the life of every single adult worse, the FPB rates all interactive computer games and assigns them a rating of PG, 13, 16 or 18.

The FPB strives to meet international classification standards, and for the most part their rating system adheres to what most would consider normal guidelines.

Games rated PG contain no references to drugs, no foul language and no nudity, but may contain minimal violence in playful, comic or highly stylised settings . What constitutes a playful depiction of violence is not explained.

Further, games rated 13 are similarly restricted in terms of drug references, foul language and nudity, but may contain sequences of mild violence , provided there is no mutilation or dismemberment of animal or human bodies.

The 16+ classification makes allowances for drug reference — provided they do not glamorise their use — and some nudity, provided it is not tied to incentives within the game. But with regard to violence, the game may include sequences of intense violence in graphic detail. Mutilation and dismemberment may occur in animated contexts.

On the surface, it would seem the FPB tolerates violence in video games, provided it is not tied to incentives or rewards in the game, for example: killing innocent people for money to buy better weapons.


16th June   

Update: Somalis Severely Punished...

Somalis banned from watching DVDs and films on TV
Link Here
Full story: Sharia in Somalia...Somalia adopts sharia law

Sharia: Where Government knows best meets Allah knows best. The lack of separation of religion and state and the lack of meaningful checks and balances, combined with a brutal set of laws and the presumption of divine endorsement for it all set the stage for a corrupt, capricious and vicious government. And governments like that issue decrees like this.

Islamists controlling southern Somaliia have banned watching DVDs or movies on television and said raids would be conducted to catch offenders, who would then be severely punished.

Watching films is totally banned even indoors, Sheikh Mowlid Ahmed, a security forces commander in the port city of Kismayo said in a statement: People are allowed to use their home televisions only to watch news on such channels such as Al-Jazeera . Raids will be carried out on homes of people suspected of illegally watching films and if found guilty, they will face punishment .

Residents say Islamist security forces in the town recently started inspecting mobile phones to prevent them from being used for watching movies.

The punishment normally meted out on offenders is flogging.


13th June   

Banned Tunes...

Zimbabwe musician banned from radio after criticising Zanu-PF
Link Here

The music of Sungura musician Hosiah Chipanga has been banned on national radio, Radio Zimbabwe, wrote the newspaper ZimDaily.

When Hosiah Chipanga released the controversial album Hero Shoko , his songs quickly hit the airwaves. But after a little while, and after a surprise song on President Mugabe's birthday exposed top Zanu-PF official's corrupt activities, the album was blacklisted and pulled off air

His new and 20th album is laden with messages that attack the Zanu-PF regime.


9th June   

Updated: Falling Short of Free Exprssion...

CPJ protests repressive Sudanese press law
Link Here
Full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

Sudanese media have suffered multiple blows in recent months as parliament considers a harshly repressive press bill and authorities impose an exceptional level of censorship, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

The press bill, introduced in the Sudanese National Assembly in April, falls far short of international standards for free expression, according to CPJ's analysis.

The bill grants the National Council for the Press and Publications unprecedented authority to grant and revoke publication licenses; impose strict disciplinary measures against journalists; conduct examination of journalists to determine their suitability for the profession; and confiscate printing equipment. Eight of the council's 21 members would be appointed by the president, according to the bill. The president's office would have sole oversight of the National Council for the Press and Publications.

According to the bill, newspapers would have to renew licenses annually and journalists must be registered with the council in order to work. Journalists can be fined up to 50,000 new Sudanese pounds (US$21,000) for violating any provision of the bill, according to Article 37. Article 26 stipulates that an editor-in-chief bears primary legal responsibility for all matters appearing in a newspaper, but it assigns legal responsibility to writers, editors, publishers, printers, and distributors as well.

In another alarming development, local journalists told CPJ that security agents are imposing censorship at an ever-increasing rate. The 1999 National Security Forces Law grants security forces significant powers over the media.

Around 9 p.m. every day, security officers visit newspapers to determine what they can print and what will be censored, journalists told CPJ. It is totally arbitrary, Murtadha al-Ghali, editor-in-chief of the independent daily Ajras al-Huriya, told CPJ. [The officer] removes certain articles from our newspaper and the next day other newspapers publish similar articles.

Update: Fine Dropped

Based on article from

Sudanese parliament agreed to remove the heavy fine imposed on the journalists in a draft law discussed currently by the legislators, the head of Sudanese journalists syndicate said.

Mahi Eddin Titawi, said yesterday they had agreed with a National Assembly subcommittee reviewing the contested press draft law to drop the fine of 50,000 Sudanese pound (21,500 US dollars) that journalists could face for unspecified offences.

Titawi further said the journalists would not have to be registered at the government controlled press council but at the journalists syndicate.

Update: Press Law Passed

9th June 2009. Based on article from

Sudan Monday passed an amended version of a media bill that sparked protests in Khartoum last month, but the new version failed to allay the fears of many Sudanese journalists.

A peace accord, which ended more than 20 years of fighting between the north and south, also promised Sudan's first free elections in 24 years. Analysts and Sudanese opposition politicians have said a new press law is crucial for the February ballot.

Journalists said Monday they were pleased legislators had removed a section from earlier drafts that would have allowed a powerful press council to fine journalists or newspapers up to 50,000 Sudanese Pounds ($21,000). In the final version, law courts decide penalties and can choose how long to suspend newspapers.

But the new press bill leaves room for state interference on the grounds of national security or public order and it remains unclear if censorship will be reduced.


6th June   

Dangerous Pictures...

Photoshopped nudes of Tanzanian president spell trouble for blogger
Link Here

The Nairobi Chronicle reports that a Tanzanian blogger faces jail after publishing manipulated photographic images depicting Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete engaging in lewd sex acts.

According to Habari Leo , a Tanzanian newspaper the country's police are seeking help from Interpol in tracing the owners and publishers of the blog.

Ze utamu (, probably Tanzania's most controversial blog, came to the limelight by publishing a mixture of Tanzanian Diaspora gossip, nude and sex photographs of well known people as well as name-and-shaming articles. While it attracted many readers, the blog has also attracted criticism.


1st April   

Strike Struck Off...

Tunisian hunger strikers page blocked
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Tunisia...Blogs and websites banned in Tunisia

Tunisian authorities have blocked access to the Matroudine website dedicated to provide information and support for the five students and activists from the Tunisian General Student Union (UGET) who went on hunger strike to protest their arbitrary exclusion from Tunisian universities and deprivation of their right to education because of their activism within the UGET.

The five young UGET unionists, namely Ali bouzouzeya, Taoufik Louati, Aymen Jaabiri, Mohamed Boualleg, and Mohamed Soudani, have been on hunger strike since February 11th, 2009. After more than 48 days of hunger strike their health condition has greatly worsened. However, Tunisian authorities continue not to react.


9th March   

Brave but Arrested...

Moroccan blogger arrested over petition against prosecutor
Link Here

Moroccan blogger and anti-corruption journalist, Hassan Barhoum, who has been arrested since February 25th for exposing a corruption case involving the prosecutor-general for the king of Morocco.

Barhon circulated a petition calling Mohamed Masmouki, the prosecutor-general at Tetouan's court of appeals, a dangerous criminal undermining people's sacred beliefs and the state institutions. The petition, which has been signed by scores of journalists, bloggers and activists, called for the need to put Mohamed Masmouki on a popular trial.

According to the CPJ, blogger Hassan Barhon was charged under Article 263 of the penal code with defaming a member of the judicial body. If convicted, Hassan Barhon could face up to five years in prison: The Moroccan authorities must stop criminalizing freedom of expression and punishing critical bloggers and journalists [...] Morocco cannot pursue criminal proceedings for defamation, which is a civil matter, while at the same time claiming that the country continues to make progress in the field of press freedom.


9th March   

Propaganda Practitioners...

Botswana recruits propaganda team to talk up restrictive media law
Link Here

Botswana's Ministry of Communications Science and Technology has marshalled a team of about twenty reporters to defend the Media Practitioners' Act - by informing and educating the public about the Act.

The government's use of the extensive media under its control as a powerful propaganda tool leaves little doubt as to the real intention of the Media Practitioners Act - to restrict reporting by the private media while bombarding the public with government propaganda.

The Government is coming under increasing pressure locally and internationally to allow Botswana media to report news freely without interference. Many institutions in Botswana and abroad have called on President Khama to initiate a review of the restrictive media law.

They pointed out that while the Act says it aims at preserving media freedom, upholding standards of professional conduct and promoting ethical standards and discipline, these good intentions are undermined by many sections, which we believe restrict media work and have the effect of cowing media practitioners into fear and self-censorship.
“We raise particular concern with the setting up, composition and duties of the Media Council and its mandate to monitor journalists, administer accreditation and impose an outside regulatory system on the media. It is troubling that this media council will in fact be appointed by the Minister without any stated criteria for the participation of media practitioners and organisations, which have been relegated to membership and associate membership roles.


1st February   

Poisoned Minds...

Propose anti porn legislation in Uganda
Link Here

Ugandans selling pornography risk being sentenced to Prison for 10 years or to pay a fine of sh10m, once the Anti Pornography Bill 2009 is passed.

Ethics and Integrity minister Dr. James Nsaba Buturo said the Bill was ready and would soon be tabled in Parliament.

If the offender is a corporate body or a business, the directors or proprietors or both, will be liable to a fine not exceeding sh100m or imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or both.

Pornography is a big business for both promoters and advocates of immorality, who do not care about the quality of human relationships in the family and nationally, Buturo said: Pornography is a poison to the mind. It fuels sexual crimes like rape and defilement. It destroys marriages and turns values upside down. Some of the values have stood the test of time.

Some sections of the Bill target to punish producers and participants in the production, traffickers, publishers or broadcasters of pornography. It also empowers the courts of law to order the forfeiture and destruction of all materials and objects used to commit the offence. The Bill empowers the court to issue a search warrant for any premises or persons, seize the materials and arrest the culprits.

It states that once culprits are convicted, they have no appeal option. Buturo said the Bill caters for Internet service providers, who permit the downloading or uploading of pornography.


31st January   

Siege of Kalima...

Police lay siege to new Tunisian radio station
Link Here
Full story: Siege of Kalima...Tunisia police harass and close radio station

Plainclothes police surrounded the offices of a newly launched satellite radio station and detained one of its journalists. Police are continuing their siege of the station.

The journalist, Dhafer Otay of Radio Kalima, said he was held for four hours and then released without charge. Officers prevented him and his colleagues from entering the Tunis offices of their independent satellite radio station, Radio Kalima . The station was started by the same team in charge of the locally blocked online magazine Kalima .

The Tunisian government should lift its siege of Radio Kalima immediately, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator: Public relations campaigns aimed at presenting the Tunisian government as tolerant cannot conceal the country's status as one of the Arab world's top enemies of independent journalism.


15th January   

Update: Crisis in Kano...

On Jos Crisis film banned in Nigeria's Kano state
Link Here

Following a directive by the Kano State government, the state censorship board has banned the sale of an ethnic Hausa film, titled On Jos Crisis, circulating in the state on the recent religious crisis in Plateau State.

The Director-General of the Kano State Film Censorship Board, Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim explained that the state government had decided to take the decision claiming that the film may create tension and degenerate into crisis in the state. He said: the contents of the film are false and capable of creating tension in the state.

Meanwhile, the mobile court on regulating of film activities in the state has passed various sentences on seven individuals for violating film regulations.

Two months imprisonment and a fine were passed for 2 men downloading a banned Hausa song called Mamar in a film named A loko . Others were also sentenced for operating viewing centres near a mosque where they used to admit underage children into the centres. They were further sentenced to two months with an option of fine each.


3rd January   

Retrograde Step...

Kenya president further chips away at press freedom
Link Here

Kenya's President Kibaki has signed into law the controversial Communications (Amendment) Bill 2008, which the media and human rights groups say is draconian and retrogressive.

The Editors Guild immediately denounced the action, while the Media Owners Association was set to hold a crisis meeting last night.

This is retrogressive. He has looked for an excuse to clamp on democracy. The President has completely evaded the issues we have raised as the media fraternity, said Macharia Gaitho, chairman of the Editors Guild.

The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) expressed shock and disappointment. MCK chairman Wachira Waruru said the council will not relent in its fight for press freedom and independence.

The President  told the media to recognise that freedom comes with responsibility: While press freedom is a cardinal pillar of democracy [...BUT...] this is a right that carries with it special duties and responsibilities. Press freedom must therefore be counterbalanced with other freedoms and must at all times take into account the overriding interest and the safety of Kenyans .

Washington has expressed deep reservations about the law, saying it gives the east African country's information minister undue influence and that it was understandable Kenyans had demonstrated against the bill.

The amended media law provides for a new communications commission with powers to regulate broadcasting content and impose tougher fines or jail terms for press offences.

Campaigners had also called for a measure allowing authorities to shut down media outlets during a state of emergency to be revised. The article, first made into law in 1998, was not included in the amendment and remains in force.


1st January   

Action Blank Post...

Bloggers protest against censorship in Tunisia
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Tunisia...Blogs and websites banned in Tunisia

A national day of protest against censorship in Tunisia, staged on December 25th, has prompted criticism from some bloggers who feel the effort is misplaced.

Even though he participated, blogger Anis considered Action Blank Post 2008 – in which writers published a blank blog entry to signify censorship – a waste of time.

Fellow blogger Saloua derided the idea, saying that Tunisians should instead increase their writing on that day; otherwise we shall be deemed as practicing internal censorship, especially as we are exposed to censorship every day.

Since 2006, bloggers in Tunisia have used December 25th to raise awareness of the banning and manipulation of online writing. An estimated 160 bloggers participated in this year's demonstration.

Numerous bloggers complained in 2008 of intrusions and blockages of websites by the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI). Many Tunisians also accuse ATI of supporting bans on a number of popular websites. It was this issue that prompted journalist Ziad El Heni to file a lawsuit against the agency, accusing it of blocking the social networking website Facebook before it was re-opened last August based on an order from the President. El Heni lost the case in a lower court, and is preparing himself for an appeal.

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