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30th December   

Fruit Riots...

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Tunisia seals off region over youth unemployment protests
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Tunisia flag Several human rights organizations have strongly criticized censorship and police violence against journalists in Tunisia after clashes between police and demonstrators there.

The government has imposed a complete news blackout on the region of Sidi Bouzid since mid-December, when the attempted suicide of a young fruit vendor arrested for not having the right permits triggered a wave of protests, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) said.

Journalists who wanted to report on the demonstrations, some of which turned into riots, were arrested.

 

19th December   

Rape of Justice...

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South African president sues newspaper over cartoon
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zuma cartoon South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has filed a £440,000-defamation suit over a cartoon depicting him with his trousers undone, preparing to rape a blindfolded female figure. The cartoon also showed Zuma's political allies encouraging him as they held down a writhing, screaming figure with a sash identifying her as the justice system .

Eric van der Berg, a lawyer representing South Africa's Sunday Times, said notice from the president's lawyers had arrived at the paper's Johannesburg offices.

The cartoon caused a storm when it was published in 2008, two years after Zuma had been acquitted of rape charges. But Van der Berg said Zuma had not followed up on threats to sue until now.

Zuma is claiming 4m rand (about £360,000) for humiliation and degradation and 1m rand for damage to his reputation.

Jonathan Shapiro, who signs his work Zapiro and is among the country's best known political cartoonists, said he stood behind his cartoon and the view he was expressing. I will not allow the president to intimidate me, Shapiro told the Times, sister paper to the Sunday Times.

 

10th December   

Tunileaks...

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Tunisia blocks out Wikileaked US criticism
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tunileaks logo Tunisia has blocked the website of a Lebanese newspaper that published US cables released by WikiLeaks describing high-level corruption, a sclerotic regime, and deep hatred of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali's wife and her family.

Deeply unflattering reports from the US embassy in Tunis, released by WikiLeaks, make no bones about the state of the small Maghreb country, widely considered one of the most repressive in a repressive region.

The problem is clear, wrote ambassador Robert Godec in July 2009, in a secret dispatch released by Beirut's al-Akhbar newspaper.

Tunisia has been ruled by the same president for 22 years. He has no successor. And, while President Ben Ali deserves credit for continuing many of the progressive policies of President Bourguiba, he and his regime have lost touch with the Tunisian people. They tolerate no advice or criticism, whether domestic or international. Increasingly, they rely on the police for control and focus on preserving power.

Corruption in the inner circle is growing. Even average Tunisians are now keenly aware of it, and the chorus of complaints is rising. Tunisians intensely dislike, even hate, first lady Leila Trabelsi and her family. In private, regime opponents mock her; even those close to the government express dismay at her reported behaviour. Meanwhile, anger is growing at Tunisia's high unemployment and regional inequities. As a consequence, the risks to the regime's long-term stability are increasing.

Tunileaks

Based on article from  advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org

Tunisian activists pounced on the latest Wikileaks US Embassy Cables, dedicating a new website to republish and discuss the revelations related to their country. Tunileaks, was launched by Nawaat one hour after the whistle-blowing site unleashed the cables on Sunday, November 28th.

The Tunisian government, known for its restriction on freedom of expression, rapidly blocked the access to Tunileaks. They first blocked tunileaks.appspot.com (without the https). One day later, they blocked Google App Engine's IP address (209.85.229.141) in order to block Tunileaks under https, making appspot.com partially unavailable in the country.

Even the electronic version of the Lebanese newspaper Al akhbar has been censored in Tunisia after the publication of some cables released by Tunileaks.

 

29th November   

Customary Censorship...

Zimbabwe film banned for depicting kissing in front of parents
Link Here

lobola The Zimbabwe Censorship Board has banned newly released comedy feature film, Lobola from showing on the local cinema circuit.

The film premiered in Harare last week in a high profile event attended by Big Brother Africa All Stars 2010, cabinet ministers as well as local artists.

However, the producers said the country's Censorship Board had refused to sanction the movie for general distribution in the country: Zimbabwe Censorship Board granted permission to screen the movie for the premiere after intervention of Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity. This permission has not been extended to the cinema circuit, DVD or any other public access of the movie .

The Board objected to the film's general release on the grounds that it does not really portray African custom when it comes to marriage adding one does not go to get married while drunk .

The Board also objected to a scene in the film where young people kiss in front of parents as well as its abrupt ending .

The producers said they were appealing the Board's decision with the Ministry of Home Affairs: It is the view of the producers that the reasons given for the denial do not constitute harmful threats to Zimbabwean society.

 

12th November   

Ethically Censorial...

Uganda takes aim at newspaper porn promotion
Link Here

Uganda flag The Uganda Media Council has revealed that it is working with the executive and other law enforcement agencies to ensure pornographic material is not published.

Paul Mukasa, the General Secretary of the Uganda media Council, the statutory regulatory body of the print media said that the law is in existence that prohibits pornographic publications.

Although many newspapers like the Red pepper, the Onion, Kamunye and Bukedde newspapers are said to be the ones in the pornography promotion industry, the law is yet to act on them.

Mukasa also revealed that the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity is planning to table a bill that will further strengthen laws against publishing pornographic material.

 

9th November   

Lynch Bait...

Uganda's Rolling Stone banned from outing gays
Link Here  full story: Rolling Stone Lynch List...Ugandan magazine publishes list of gays

rolling sto gay pics The latest twist in Uganda's hang the homos saga was played out last week when the High Court in Kampala ordering Rolling Stone newspaper to stop publishing the names, photographs and addresses of people it says are gay. Alongside the photos, the paper urged the government: Hang them.

The court order came too late for the 26 already featured in two issues of the newspaper.

Frank Mugisha, director of gay rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda, told me last week that almost everyone outed by the paper, including himself, had since been attacked or harassed and that some were in danger of losing their jobs.

Giles Muhame, the defiant 22-year-old editor of Rolling Stone, now says he will find a way to dodge the law and work through a list he says he has of 100 gay men and women.

Muhame's views will be abhorrent to many Western people but his views are not uncommon among many young Africans. In Uganda's bars and cafes, I found a lot of support for Muhame and his paper.

 

6th November   

No Mamba Bado...

Uganda's Central Broadcasting Service returns after a 14 month ban
Link Here

Uganda flag Full, normal broadcasting of the Ugandan Central Broadcasting Service (CBS)--owned by Uganda's powerful traditional Buganda kingdom--resumed this week after nearly 14 months of silence.

The government-influenced Broadcasting Council summarily shuttered CBS and three other stations in September 2009, as Council Chairman Godfrey Mutabazi accused the broadcasters of inciting violence sparked by the government's blocking of the Bagandan monarch from attending a youth celebration north of the capital, Kampala. (The other stations were returned to air quickly.)

Although Minister of Information, Communication, and Technology Aggrey Awori lifted the ban on the stations, ostensibly with no conditions, Kafumbe said, the CBS staff are not convinced the station will be the same. For one thing, the station's popular program Mambo Bado , remains off the air; the program that had local people calling in to voice their concerns about anything--from politics to a pop singer's poor choice of attire. Further, while the station has re-opened, it still does not have an operating license and must re-apply to the Broadcasting Council.

 

3rd November   

Registered Press Censors...

Malawi closes down weekly newspaper
Link Here

weekend times malawi logo The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a government ban on the publication of Malawian weekly tabloid The Weekend Times .

In a letter dated October 28, the National Archives of Malawi issued an immediate suspension of The Weekend Times on charges of failing to register the paper, according to news reports.

The letter cited the 1958 Printed Publications Act, which requires all newspapers to be registered and to deposit a copy of each of their publications with the National Archives. Under the colonial-era law, the National Archives can shutter publications for an indeterminate period without appeal, local journalists told CPJ.

Blantyre Publishers, the owners of The Weekend Times and four other publications, applied to register all of their publications with the National Archive last month but did not receive a response, Managing Director Leonard Chikadya told CPJ. Once an application is submitted for registration it is assumed that the publication has commenced the registration process and cannot face punitive measures according to the publishing law, Chikadaya said. Blantyre Publishers' legal counsel has filed motions for an injunction in an effort to continue publishing.

The The Weekend Times appears to have been shut down without basis, said CPJ's East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. We urge the National Archives to rescind their order immediately and allow the weekly to continue publishing.

 

1st November   

A Bad Influence for Morocco...

Morocco bans al-Jazeera over claims of damaging reporting
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Al Jazeera logo Morocco has suspended the activities of al-Jazeera on its territory for what it claimed was unfair reporting that had damaged the country's reputation.

The Moroccan communications ministry said it had noted several incidents in which the Qatar-based television station had violated journalistic standards for accuracy and objectivity.

It said al-Jazeera's broadcasts had seriously distorted Morocco's image and manifestly damaged its interests, most notably its territorial integrity .

The station had shown a determination to only broadcast from our country negative facts and phenomena in a deliberate effort to minimise Morocco's efforts in all aspects of development and to knowing belittle its achievements and progress on democracy, the ministry said.

 

31st October   

Don't Judge People by the Appearance of their Deities...

South African comedian rapped for radio spoof about hindus
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vinayagar A South African radio station has been officially rapped for propagating hate speech after a comedian made fun of Hindus.

Comedian John Vlismas was suspended by South Africa's East Coast Radio, which said the sketch should never have been broadcast. The station twice issued an on-air apology for the skit, in which Vlisma pretended to be a Christian cleric.

However, six Hindus complained to the country's Broadcasting Complaints Commission – including two who did not realise the sketch was a spoof and thought a genuine pastor was insulting their religion. They complained that he mocked the number of gods Hindus pray to and their appearances.

One complainant said: This "pastor", with an obviously miniscule intellect, went on to launch a bitter tirade against South African Hindus by attacking us for worshipping "cows, elephants, and stones" and implied that we were a "stupid" race. I find the ignorant and arrogant remarks, against the ancient religion of Hinduism, which preaches love, tolerance and a universal respect for all living creatures, to be utter distasteful.

The broadcast watchdog noted that the comic intent of the sermon was clearly not understood nor appreciated by the complainants but ruled that his derogatory reference to manifestations of the Hindu deity exceeded the bounds of humour and constitute the advocacy of hatred .

The commission also found there was incitement to cause harm when Vlismas joked that it was not use killing Hindus because they ‘keep coming back’. The comment was made as a quip about the Hindu belief in reincarnation

 

25th October   

Critical Permission...

Swaziland PM announces law to require journalists to seek state approval for articles criticising government
Link Here

Swaziland flag The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by a recent statement from Swaziland's Prime Minister, Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, announcing his intention to create a law requiring newspaper columnists to seek permission before they write critically about the government.

Dlamini's statement appeared in the Tuesday edition of state daily Swazi Observer, according to the Media Institute of Southern Africa and local journalists. Dlamini accused news columnists of tarnishing their country's image and taking payments from unnamed foreign interests, according to the same sources.

No further details were disclosed. The prime minister's statement did not include any specific details about what the law would require, how it would be enforced or when it might be enacted.

The prime minister's vague threat to create a censorship law is a step backwards for Swaziland, said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. Requiring columnists to receive prior approval for their work would be a direct violation of Swaziland's Constitution, which guarantees press freedom.

 

21st October   

Rationalisation?...

South African Woolworths decide to stop selling religious magazines
Link Here

woolworths south africa logo South African Christians are threatening to boycott Woolworths stores after a decision to stop selling Christian magazines.

This means readers of magazines such as Lig , Juig , Joy and Lééf will have to buy them elsewhere.

Adri-Louise van Renen, editor of Lig , confirmed that she was informed about the Woolworths decision after receiving an email from their distributor.

Van Renen wrote in a letter to her readers: All similar magazines have immediately been taken down from their shop shelves. She quoted a letter from Woolworths, saying: Woolworths has taken a business decision to no longer stock any religious magazines, with immediate effect. We have already given all our shops directives to remove religious titles from shelves.

Answering a customer's question on the Woolworths Facebook page, a spokesperson of the chain simply said that Woolworths had reviewed their whole magazine catalogue and rationalised it.

Woolworths CEO Simon Susman told Beeld that it was against the store's policy to sell religious and political magazines: We are currently reviewing all magazines sold by Woolworths. We will continue to remove magazines from our shelves that aren't popular with clients. We aim not to offend any community by this policy.

 

20th October   

Voltaire in Tunisia...

Tunisians defend religious channel closed by Egypt on grounds of extremism
Link Here

annas tv logo Satellite TV station Ennas has been closed due to alleged violations of the broadcasting agreement, sparking mixed reactions across the countries of Maghreb (Northwest Africa).

Egypt suspended the license of Al-Baraheen International and its four satellite TV stations, including Ennas, on October 12th citing extremist or sectarian content.

Tunisians were divided over the decision to shut down the channels, with most viewers opposing the ban.

I don't think that this was the best solution, said journalist Sofiene Chourabi. I'm against the silencing of voices. It would have been better to encourage liberal and enlightening channels to broadcast via satellites in order to open the field for honest and balanced competition. After that, the final judgment would be left to viewers.

The suspended business owns the Khaleejia, al-Hafiz, al-Seha wal Jamal and Ennas channels. According to media critic Khemais Khayati, who authored a book on religious TV channels, Ennas has a large audience in Tunisia, with nearly 500,000 viewers.

In principle, channels of expression may not be closed, even if they were encouraging extremism, backwardness and taming, which are the easiest things to convince the general populace with. Therefore, it would have been better to create channels that expose them rather than close them, said Faouzi Naoui.

Human rights activist Bochra Bel Haj Hmida condemned the ban. This is not a solution. It would be better to respond to the backward and racist ideology channels by encouraging all media outlets that call for freedom, human rights and respect of individuals, she said.

Many Tunisians believe in defending the channels whatever their value. Azouz Lotfi told Magharebia the networks don't offer any positive things to humanity... they don't respect the right to different opinion and are hostile to modernity in principle .

Nevertheless, he said: We must defend that channel and its right to broadcasting out of respect for freedom of opinion and expression and values of equality and humanity. We should not fall into the trap of ban, restriction and methods of oppression. We won't defend freedom and dignity using the methods employed by executioners and decapitators.

Offsite: Islamic Fundamentalist Mass Media Targets Egyptian Coptic Church

1st November 2010. Based on article from aina.org By Mary Abdelmassih

On October 19, Egypt's main satellite operator Nilesat temporarily suspended 12 Islamic channels, and warned 20 others, on grounds of violating their licenses. The reasons given were mainly for promoting religious hatred, inciting sectarianism, violence, quack medicine and sorcery. This decision was taken after extensive study that indicated a near doubling of these channels over the past year and a recent spike of extremist religious discourse, information minister Anas Al-Feki said in a statement. Before these measures were taken, there were 94 Islamic private television channels airing from Arab countries.

Nine of the twelve suspended channels were funded by Saudi Arabia. There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia is playing a destructive and ruinous role in Egypt, commented Magdi Khalil.

Analysts said that the suspension decision seemed to be mainly aimed at stopping the spread of strict Islamic Salafi/Wahabbi teaching that might boost support for the Muslim Brotherhood, prompted by the forthcoming crucial parliamentary elections in November.

...read the full article

 

12th October   

Not So Universal TV...

Somaliland bans UK based satellite channel
Link Here

universal tv logo Authorities in Somaliland should immediately lift a suspension order imposed against the UK-based satellite broadcaster Universal TV, the Committee to Protect Journalists has said.

The order bars the station's correspondents from reporting in the breakaway republic in northern Somalia, Khadar Mahamed, Universal TV senior newscaster and producer, told CPJ.

This abrupt order tarnishes Somaliland's press freedom record, said CPJ's East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. We call on Somaliland authorities to lift the suspension immediately.

Information Minister Abdullahi Osman told CPJ that he imposed the indefinite suspension in a letter to the station. Although the minister's official statement accused the station of bias, Osman told CPJ there was no specific issue that led to the suspension. Still, local journalists noted the suspension came shortly after Universal TV aired interviews and a debate program concerning the separatist Sool, Sanag and Cayn militia based along the borders of Somaliland.

Mahamed said Universal TV management is in talks with Somaliland authorities over the suspension.

 

10th October   

Monte Carlo Banned...

Sudan bans another European radio channel
Link Here

monte car doualiya logo A few weeks after banning BBC, the Sudanese government has banned Monte Carlo Radio

The Sudanese government decided a few days ago to bar Monte Carlo Arabic channel airing from Paris. There were no declared reasons for such a decision.

Administration of Monte Carlo Radio submitted a request for license renewal to air on Fm 93 to the ministry of information in Sudan. The Sudanese government declined on license renewal alleging that laws and regulation will not permit it. The same trivial reasoning was declared upon barring the BBC.

The Arabic Network said, Despite the declaration of the Sudanese government that barring both channels neither has political backgrounds nor has to do with the line of the channels, yet this decision being taken at this moment against two of the most popular channels operating in the Arabic region for such a long time leaves us with only one interpretation that is the Sudanese government intends to silence all media outlets that do not comply with their policy before the forthcoming referendum on separation .

 

8th October   

Update: Website Blocking Blocked...

South Africa backs down on its plan for a total internet porn ban
Link Here

South Africa flag South Africa's department of Home affairs has backed down on a total ban of internet porn websites.

The department met with the Film and Publications Board, the Internet Service Providers' Association (Ispa), the department of communications, the Independent Communications Authority of SA and the Wireless Application Service Providers' Association (Waspa), in an attempt to find middle ground with regards to protecting children from Internet-based pornography.

In July deputy minister Malusi Gigaba said he would fast-track legislation to ban porn on SA computer screens.

Many in industry were concerned that the document drafted by the Justice Alliance would be used as a basis for the proposed legislation. The document proposed harsh penalties for Internet service providers that carried porn on their networks.

However, Dominic Cull, Ispa regulatory advisor and owner of Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions, says Gigaba agreed at the meeting that legislative action to prevent online pornography should be a last resort for the department.

Cull says Ispa, Waspa and government authorities will begin looking at other ways to protect children from porn on the Internet. Cull says education and marketing was suggested as one possible approach. Providers could also implement voluntary filtering on certain websites if they wanted to.

All the representatives at the meeting decided to put together task teams to investigate alternatives to a blanket ban on Internet porn, Cull says.

 

7th October   

Update: Royally Stuffed...

Morocco's Nichane magazine censored via advertiser boycott.
Link Here  full story: Royal Censorship in Morocco...Law puts the Moroccan king above comment

nichane Morocco's top Arabic-language weekly Nichane has closed after a board meeting of its shareholders.

The magazine's large circulation should have made it a prime advertising outlet. Yet Nichane has suffered a persistent advertising boycott campaign initiated by the royally-owned ONA/SNI group, the largest corporation in Morocco, and eventually followed by major companies linked to the regime.

The closure of Nichane raises troubling questions about Morocco's commitment to press freedom. The thousands upon thousands of Moroccan readers who made Nichane a best-seller have now been deprived of a unique source of independent reporting.

The magazine, founded in 2006 as a modernist and secular media outlet published in local Moroccan Arabic, has been praised in Morocco and abroad for its daring taboo-tackling cover stories. These include: The King's cult of personality , Sex and homosexuality in Islamic culture , Morocco, #1 marijuana producer in the world , Inside Moroccan secret services , How Moroccans joke about Islam, sex and the monarchy. , and more.

Yet because of its often critical positions towards the regime, Nichane – along with TelQuel , its French-language sister publication – was from its inception targeted by a large advertising boycott campaign. That campaign intensified after September 2009 when the government censored publication of an opinion poll on King Mohammed VI (another first, in Morocco and the entire Arab World) published by Nichane , TelQuel and the French daily Le Monde .

Many of Morocco's major companies are owned by the royal family, by the government, or by moguls closely connected to the regime. Because of political pressure and a boycott campaign launched by royal ONA/SNI group, many of these companies in various economic sectors (e.g., banking, telecommunications, real estate, air transportation) over time began to remove TelQuel Group publications from their advertising purchases.

 

19th September   

Update: Classified as Repressive...

South Africans protest against two repressive censorship bills
Link Here

South Africa flagHundreds of demonstrators have marched in Johannesburg, South Africa, against new measures they fear will muzzle the country's media.

They criticised plans to introduce a protection of information bill and a new media tribunal, to punish journalists who step out of line.

Demonstrators carrying placards condemning press censorship marched to the Constitutional Court to voice their anger against the two proposals.

The protection of information bill would allow the government to classify material that is currently not secret.

The media tribunal, which would be answerable to parliament, would have the power to jail or fine journalists for inaccurate reporting.

Helen Zille, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, said the proposals are worse than apartheid-era measures. Zille - once herself a prominent journalist - has described the tribunal as a tool to mask corruption. She argued it would be worse than the apartheid-era media council, which was headed by a judge.

 

18th September   

High Price to Pay...

Mozambique SMS service turned off as text messages used to encourage food riots
Link Here

Mozambique flagA letter apparently from the Mozambique communications authority asked mobile networks to block text messages during food riots in the southern African country earlier this month.

Hundreds of people were arrested over the protests and 13 killed, after the government put up the price of bread by a third. Petrol and electricity also went up sharply. The riots were encouraged by round-robin text messages.

A letter sent by the National Communications Institute asked both Vodacom and M-Cel to switch off text message functions but only for pre-pay customers. The letter, seen by the BBC, was sent to Mediafax which noted that messaging was unavailable to pre-pay punters on both networks for several days.

 

12th September   

Chicken to Change...

Zimbabwe bans band for spitting image like take on Robert Mugabe
Link Here

chicken to change videoThe government of Zimbabwe has banned South African band Freshlyground over a Spitting Image-style music video which portrays its ageing president Robert Mugabe as afraid to relinguish power.

The band, which is made up of South Africans, Zimbabweans and Mozambicans and has a pan-African following, was due to perform a concert in the capital Harare next month.

But this week, Zimbabwe's Immigration Department revoked its working visas without explanation, just days after the launch of the Chicken to Change song.

The song and accompanying video is the result of a collaboration between Freshlyground, best known for performing the World Cup anthem Waka Waka with Shakira, and controversial cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, most recently in hot water for portraying South African president Jacob Zuma as raping Lady Justice.

You promised always to open the doors for us. Indeed it is you and only you who sleeps with the key. You are chicken to change, lead singer Zolani Mahola sings, as Mugabe, in a puff of feathers, transforms into a poultry version of his former self in the back of his presidential limo.

Thierry Cassuto, the executive producer of ZA News, the satirical news programme that features Zapiro's latex puppets and created the music video, said the chicken for change was not a protest song but an appeal to Mugabe's conscience. We knew that if there was someone watching in Harare who didn't have a sense of humour, they wouldn't have liked it, he said: People can read their own meanings into this video. It's a pity that Freshlyground have had their permits cancelled because they are popular in Zimbabwe. What kind of a threat does this song really represent?

 

11th September   

Update: Repressive Ethics...

Uganda nutter minister proposes extreme penalties for minor erotics
Link Here  full story: Ugandan Ethics Minister...Nutter minister rants about gays and miniskirts

james nsaba buturoA proposed anti-pornography law could see journalists and ISPs jailed for terms ranging from five to 10 years and their businesses closed, 'Ethics' Minister James Nsaba Buturo said.

Buturo said pornography, which he described as a terrible vice, was growing in the country but the laws against it were too weak. He said the new law, which extensively expands the definition of pornographic material and the accompanying sanctions, will help rein in offenders. Those who deal in pornographic materials, your days are numbered, Buturo said.

We have finally acted and this time, this law will work because our integrity is not for sale, he told journalists. The Bill, he said also provides for fines. He emphasised that pornography is evil and makes the mind receptive to other vices such as homosexuality .

The current legal provisions on pornography prohibit obscene publications but Buturo says this law is incomprehensive. The issue of pornography transcends publications and includes communication, speech, entertainment, stage play, broadcast, music, dance, art, fashion, motion picture and audio recording.

Under the proposed Bill, pornography is defined as any form of communication from literature to fashion or photography that depicts unclothed or under-clothed parts of the human body (such as breasts, thighs, buttocks or genitalia), that narrates or depicts sexual intercourse or that describes or exhibits anything that can lead to erotic stimulation.

According to the proposed Bill, pornography includes fashion , implying that women could be arrested for wearing short skirts and skimpy dresses.

An increase in pornographic materials in the Ugandan mass media and nude dancing in entertainment world calls for long legal framework to regulate such vices, he said. Only teaching aides, spouses and sportsmen will get exemptions of punishment from the new law.

However, analysts say the flaws of the proposed law, lies in the broad definition of pornography.

 

6th September   

Entertaining Repression...

Zimbabwe dusts off old entertainment licence law
Link Here

Zimbabwe flagIt's reported the Zimbabwe's censorship board has declared it will now be a crime for artists to perform without an entertainment licence.

Solomon Chitungo, an official with the Censorship Board, is quoted as saying; This is not a new thing it has always been there but it's just that it was not applied strictly and artists have been performing illegally. The certificate will be valid for 12 months. It's just like a drivers licence, we are also just issuing a licence to provide entertainment and if one is to be found without the certificate we will stop the show and confiscate their equipment, he said.

Newsreel has been told artists will now need to pay US$25 a year while institutions will have to cough up US$155 a year to get the entertainment licence. While the law is not new, as the censorship board official admitted, their motivation in dusting-off an outdated law from Ian Smith's Rhodesian regime is meant to find yet another way of controlling free expression.

 

5th September   

Mouths Jammed Shut...

Zimbabwe resumes jamming of SW Radio Africa
Link Here

sw africa radio logoSW Radio Africa (SWRA) have done an incredible job ensuring news-deprived Zimbabweans still have access to impartial objective information despite the Zanu PF government's passing of repressive legislation.  SWRA, broadcasting from outside Zimbabwe on short wave, have managed to provide independent news to parts of the country that email and online news sources cannot reach. As such they have been a lifeline of information to oppressed Zimbabweans.

It has also made SWRA a thorn in the side for members of the political elite who feel most threatened by a critical and enquiring press that seeks to expose corruption and human rights abuses.

SWRA have been jammed before, but their article on their website about this instance conveys shock at the fact that, this time, the jamming is happening under the inclusive government which includes former opposition parties that have supposedly fought for democratic principles.

Robert Mugabe's regime has resumed jamming news broadcasts from SW Radio Africa. On Wednesday evening the first half hour of our broadcast featuring Newsreel was drowned out by a heavy noise, sounding like a slow playing record.

In 2005 Mugabe's regime began jamming SW Radio Africa frequencies just before the controversial Operation Murambatsvina. It was reported that the jamming equipment and expertise was provided by China and at the time we spoke to a soldier who says he was sent to China to be trained in jamming techniques.

For the past few weeks we have been concerned that jamming tests were being carried out on our broadcasts as various radio hams around the world have been sending us regular reports of a faintly audible music loop. Unfortunately it was confirmed that these were tests, as jamming began in earnest on 1st September.

 

3rd September   

Shortages of Food and Press Freedom...

Malawi president threatens a ban on newspapers reporting food shortages
Link Here

Malawi flagThe Committee to Protect Journalists condemns threatening comments made by President Bingu wa Mutharika against Malawian news outlets last week. Mutharika threatened to close newspapers that report critically about his administration after the private weeklies Malawi News and Weekend Nation cited a regional agency's report forecasting food shortages in the country.

I will close down newspapers that lie and tarnish my government's image, the president said at an agricultural fair in Blantyre. The president told editors to leave blank pages or else publish pictures of cows, hyenas, or dogs, if they have nothing positive to report, according to local reports.

Instead of making threats and telling editors what to print, the president should uphold his country's constitutional commitment to press freedom, said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. The president should allow the press to report freely, especially on such vital matters as food supply.

Malawi News and Weekend Nation cited a food supply forecast by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which said more than one million Malawians could face shortages in the wake of dry conditions in the south.

 

2nd September   

A Moment of Madness...

Zimbabwe bans art depicting 1980 atrocities
Link Here

owen masekoThe Zimbabwe Government has banned the works of prominent visual artist Owen Maseko depicting the Fifth Brigade atrocities of the 1980s in which an estimated 20 000 civillians, mostly supporters of the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), were killed by the army unit.

The civilians were massacred in the Matableland and Midlands Provinces and Robert Mugabe's only apology was that it was a moment of madness.

Maseko's works were banned under the Censorship and Entertainment Act. In a government gazette, the government banned the showing of video clips with effigies, words and paintings on the walls of the National Art Gallery set up by Maseko.

Meanwhile, Vote Thebe, the Director of the National Art Gallery and the sculptor of a nude statue, Looking into the Future , is expected to appear in court on charges of allowing Maseko to hold the art exhibition without a licence.

Thebe will also be charged under the Censorship and Entertainment Act for allegedly keeping a nude statue at the gallery showing male genital organs. Looking into the Future was pulled down from Bulawayo's Tower Block gardens in the 1980s after the local authority was accused of aiding Thebe to mount an offensive piece of art in public.

Police closed Maseko's exhibition on March 26, showing President Mugabe and his crack army unit dripping with blood of cowed innocent civilians, 24 hours after it was mounted at the gallery. He was then arrested and granted bail a few days after police closed a photography exhibition in Harare showing human rights violations by Mugabe's supporters.

 

31st August   

Update: Fast Times on the Moral High Ground...

Film censor flees police after being caught with under aged girl and is then nearly lynched by bikers
Link Here

kano state censors logoThe director general of the Kano State Film and Censorship Board, Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, was nearly lynched over the weekend.

Abdulkarim was rather ironically also noted as a former shariah law enforcer,

The censorship board has been waging a scorched earth campaign against actors, musicians and producers in the state for allegedly promoting immorality. As a result, many artistes fled the state and now ply their trade elsewhere.

The trouble started when a police patrol team accosted Abdulkarim after they saw his car parked in a secluded environment behind a mall with a young girl inside.

Abdulkarim, who insisted that the girl he was found with was his niece, said he was not having an affair with her. But when he discovered he could not convince the contingent of policemen on night patrol on the propriety of having an under-aged girl in his car at such a late hour, he panicked.

A police source said when the patrol team attempted to arrest Abdulkarim he took flight in his car.

While trying to escape however, he knocked down an official of the Kano History and Culture Bureau who was riding on a motorcycle.

This incurred the wrath of Okada riders, who thought that he had knocked down a member of their union and promptly moved to give him a thorough beating.

He was only saved from a lynching by the police who had been in pursuit of his car.

 

12th August   

Update: A Question of Intimidation...

Sudan bans BBC radio and requires intimidating security questionnaires from journalists
Link Here

BBC logoThe Sudanese government has announced it is suspending the BBC's license to broadcast in Arabic on local FM frequencies in four northern cities, including the capital, Khartoum.

Security personnel also informed editors in recent days that journalists who had not completed an extensive government questionnaire would be detained, journalists told CPJ.

The BBC said on its website that it hopes that ongoing discussions with the authorities in Khartoum will get it back on air. Jihad Ali Ballout, communications manager for BBC Arabic in London, told CPJ that the broadcaster's priority is its weekly audience of 4 million listeners in Sudan, and that it hopes to find ways to reconnect with them.

Separately, security services distributed a questionnaire to journalists in July consisting of 26 detailed questions about political viewpoints, friends, addresses, bank accounts, and floor plans of journalists' residences. Critical publications were told to return the completed forms no later than August 5, local journalists told CPJ.

Sahal Adam of the Arabic-language daily Ajras al-Huriya told CPJ he refused to submit the detailed information. The aim here is twofold, he said. One, to collect information useful when a need to arrest a critical journalist arises, but also to intimidate us. Agents told his editor that Adam would be arrested if he didn't cooperate, the journalist said. Other journalists refused to submit the questionnaire. However, they were summoned to the security offices and after several hours of interrogation and threats they provided the information.

Sudan has shown itself to be intolerant of any international attention, and this ban on BBC Arabic is merely the latest example, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. We are also gravely disturbed by this questionnaire for journalists, especially the demand for a floor plan of their homes. We can see no reason why the government would want this information and the transparent aim is to intimidate journalists, who could face arrest.

 

10th August   

Updated: In the Name of National Security...

Another South African bill proposes repression of the media
Link Here

South Africa flagThis week, the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) undertook what has now become a familiar visit to Parliament in a bid to stop yet another cynical attempt to erode press freedom.

The difference this time is that the offending Protection of Information Bill has been roundly condemned by civil society and even government agencies themselves for its insidiousness.

The chorus of condemnation has come from, among others, the Institute for Democracy in SA, the Human Rights Commission, the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, the SA Media and Gender Institute, Eskom, the Open Democracy Advice Centre and Print Media Association.

In its current form, the bill provides definitions of national security and national interest that are so absurdly broad they would severely restrict access to information for just about anybody and any institution; making nonsense of the ideal of open society and transparency.

Sanef siad: We have far too many people in Parliament who do not share our beliefs in constitutional democracy and its imperatives of transparency and openness. Some of them have never shared these values and actually once worked against them.

Yet others who once shared them have since stopped doing so, after betraying the liberation struggle ideals of reconstruction and development. Transparency and press freedom are inimical to their corrupt ways; hence the attempts to curb the free flow of information.

Why, otherwise, the Protection of Information Bill that would result in journalists being jailed for lengthy periods for doing their jobs, and also undermine the ability of parliamentarians themselves, and elected officials, to hold the State accountable?

Update: The Tribunal's Out

10th August 2010. Based on article from google.com

Proposed media regulations in South Africa have raised fears that the government is trying to control news coverage, drawing comparisons to apartheid-era censorship.

The ruling African National Congress is mulling a Media Appeals Tribunal, while parliament is considering the Protection of Information Bill, which media organisations say would hamper investigative reporting.

The media tribunal, first mooted in 2007, would adjudicate complaints on media reports in a bid to make journalists legally accountable, the ANC said.

Media houses are wary of legal penalties, and say the Press Ombudsman already hears complaints and can require newspapers to print prominent apologies or corrections.

Recent reports on government spending on luxury vehicles have irked the government of President Jacob Zuma, who also figured in a long investigation into a multi-billion-dollar arms deal first reported in South African media.

ANC secretary Gwede Mantashe said a media tribunal was required to deal with the so-called dearth of media ethics in South Africa. The party's general council will thrash out the idea at a meeting next month.

 

10th August   

Update: A Change of Censorship...

Sudan lifts government pre-publication press censorship
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

Sudan flagSudan's National Assembly has welcomed the National Security Organ's decision to lift censorship, terming it as a significant step toward boosting press freedoms.

Abdurham Ahmed Al-Sheikh Al-Fadni, the Head Acting Human Rights Committee, hailed the initiative of the national press to serve national interests and enlightenment on challenging facing the country. He said the decision would put Sudanese press before a new challenge with regard to performing its duties toward the country through self-monitoring and complying with the Press Ethic, Press Association and Press & Prints Council.

Lieut. Gen. Mohamed Ataa, Chief of National Security and Intelligence affirmed that the organ preserves it constitutional right to impose partial or full censorship whenever necessary, adding that the security organ is keen on press and political rights as long as there is common agreement to prejudice against principles of the country and unity of its territories.

 

1st August   

Update: Jammed Shut...

Ethiopian government accused of satellite TV jamming
Link Here  full story: Satellite TV Jammed in Ethiopia...Ethiopian government act as political censors

esat logoThe First independent Ethiopian satellite service (ESAT) said its transmissions in Ethiopia are intercepted for the third time since last May when the service was launched for the first time.

The Amsterdam-based Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) in a press release has held the Ethiopian government responsible for the interception.

For the past 24 hours, Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) broadcasts and transmissions in Ethiopia, the Middle East and Europe have been disrupted for the third time since it began service in May 2010.

ESAT said it has gathered evidences that show that the Ethiopian Government being illegally engaged with certain parties in the satellite business attempted to isolate and disrupt ESAT signals:

Our evidence on the source of the illegal signal interference points exclusively in the direction of the Ethiopian Government. Beginning on July 20, the satellite system carrying ESAT signals was bombarded by intense and sustained radio frequency interference disrupting a whole set of services provided by various public and private entities.'Along with ESAT, the satellite service of state-controlled Ethiopian Television was also knocked of the air.

When ESAT resumed its services after it was disrupted the second time, a request was made to the satellite provided to place ESAT on the same frequency as Ethiopian Television Service. This would ensure that any interference in ESAT signals would also affect Ethiopian Television transmissions. The Ethiopian Government by attempting to knock out ESAT ended up knocking itself off the air.'

 

9th July   

Update: Stacking the Odds for a Referendum...

Sudan censors all newspapers disagreeing with government stance on South Sudan
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

Sudan flagSudan intelligence services have imposed press censorship, which was lifted in September, six months ahead of a key referendum on independence for south Sudan, the country's association of journalists said.

We have been notified by the intelligence services that the newspaper Al-Intibaha has been closed and that from today press censorship has once again been imposed, Mohiedinne Titawi, president of the Sudanese Union of Journalists, told AFP.

The censorship will focus on the issue of the country's unity or separation and the security of south Sudan, he added.

Titawi's comments follow earlier reports by Sudanese journalists that the government halted the distribution of three newspapers considered critical of the authorities in south Sudan.

The three dailies, Al-Intibaha, Al-Tayyar and Al-Ahdath, which are all deemed critical in one way or another of the south Sudan authorities, were not available on the streets of the capital on Tuesday, according to journalists working for the publications.

Al-Intibaha, which will be closed for an undetermined period, according to its editor Al-Siddig al-Rizeigui, was one of the only newspapers openly advocating secession.

Update: Ban lifted

6th October 2010. See article from google.com

President Omar al-Bashir has lifted a ban on an influential newspaper critical the authorities in south Sudan that was closed three months ago.

 

8th July   

Update: Steady On...

South Africa bides its time in considering the bill banning all internet porn
Link Here

South Africa flagThe South Africa Law Reform Commission (LRC) is conducting research to determine how the South African Pornographic Bill should be implemented, a process that could take up to 18 months.

Bayanda Mzoneli, media and parliamentary liaison officer for the Department of Home Affairs, says the deputy minister Malusi Gigaba requested guidance from the LRC in September 2009 on how best to ensure that TV, mobile phones, and the Internet can be included in the classification dispensation to protect children.

Mzoneli explains that the Justice Alliance of South Africa (Jasa) went so far as to draft the South African Pornographic Bill out of its own initiative, to contribute to the process. He notes the current draft Bill is not an official draft Bill of government, and the deputy minister is officially waiting for advice from the LRC .

Mzoneli says the advice of the LRC would be to determine whether the inclusion should take the format of legislation, regulation, self-regulation or otherwise.

He adds that the Bill is currently open for public debate, and that IT professionals have not been forthcoming in providing insight into the technological barriers surrounding the implementation of the Bill.

Hopefully the public discussion will help guide the Bill, but ultimately it is up to the LRC to decide how the Bill will be implemented, he says.

 

8th July   

Miserable Ghana...

Ghana bans nudity in the movies
Link Here

Ghana flagSupposedly worried by the rate at which obscene movies are gaining acceptance in Ghana, the country's Ministry of Information working in collaboration with the censor board and the Movie Union has wielded the sledge hammer on the film producers by banning the sell of x-rated movies in Ghana.

The ban, according to a reliable source became effectively last month.

As it stands now, any films with scenes of nudity will be banned and prevented from entering the market.

 

28th June   

Dangerous Reporting...

Banned newspaper editor murdered in Rwanda
Link Here

Rwanda flagA top editor of an independent Rwandan newspaper that was recently banned by the government was assassinated in front of his home, according to local news reports.

An assailant shot Jean-Léonard Rugambage, acting editor of Umuvugizi as he drove through the gate of his home in the capital, Kigali, around 10 p.m., Rwanda National police spokesperson Eric Kayiranga told CPJ. At the moment, we are yet to establish who is involved in the killing and police are currently conducting investigations and we will provide information as it comes, he said.

Rwanda's Media High Council suspended Umuvugizi's right to publish in April. Soon after Umuvugizi moved online, its Web site became inaccessible to domestic visitors. Censorship of the publication, one of the few critical voices in the country, has come in the run-up to the August presidential election.

Rugambage had reported to friends and colleagues that he was being followed and had received phone threats, local journalists told CPJ. Jean-Bosco Gasasira, the exiled editor of Umuvugizi, told the U.S. government-funded Voice of America that he believed the killing was reprisal for a recent story alleging government involvement in the shooting of a former Rwandan army commander in South Africa.

The brutal murder of Jean-Léonard Rugambage deals a savage blow to Rwanda's already beleaguered independent media, said Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. It comes amid a government crackdown on critical reporting ahead of the August presidential election, and raises serious questions about the safety of independent journalists in the country. The authorities must ensure that all those behind this murder, including the masterminds, are brought to justice swiftly.

 

21st June   

Out of Control...

Ghana assembles a new film censorship board
Link Here

Ghana flagJohn Tia Akologu, Ghana's Minister of Information has inaugurated a 25-member Cinematograph Exhibition Board of Control and charged it to look out particularly for and deal with pornographic, violent and culturally unacceptable films in the country.

The old Board was dissolved owing to the public outcry about its inability to avert objectionable material being shown on the television, public cinema and video theatres even though Act 76 of the Cinematograph Act of 1961 authorised it to censor films.

Akologu said the new Board will constitute a preview and classification committee. Until the passage into law, the development and classification of a Film Bill to provide the machinery to deal with the production, previewing, distribution and marketing of films.

He called on producers of audio-visual materials and television companies to produce films that were sensitive to the concerns of the Ghanaian public: I wish to urge the industry practitioners to produce educative and positive films instead of films full of violence, pornography and other offensive sounds and images that are harmful to our minds especially the fragile minds of our children .

 

12th June   

Updated: A Bitter Pill...

Newspaper goes on strike over censorship of doctor's strike coverage
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

Ajras Al-HuriyaA Sudanese newspaper said it would suspend publication for one week in protest at stringent censorship by authorities, as five other papers were censored in Africa's largest country, journalists said.

Direct pre-publication censorship was reintroduced for two daily papers last month and four others also complained they were visited by Sudanese security forces who removed many pages of content.

We will suspend our newspaper for a week in protest at the pre-(publication) censorship, said Faiz Al-Silaik, acting editor in chief of the Ajras Al-Huriya paper, aligned to the former southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

Ajras Al-Huriya was unable to go to press on Sunday for the third day in a row and the opposition Al-Meydan, aligned to the Communist Party, was not allowed to print.

They went to the printing press...and they told the press not to print the paper, said managing editor Mohamed el-Fatih from Al-Meydan. The main news they were unhappy about seemed to be the doctors' strike.

Journalists from six independent or opposition papers told Reuters they were visited and directly censored by the security forces late on Saturday night.

Other papers said they were called and told not to write about specific news including the strike by doctors over pay and working conditions and the International Criminal Court, unless it was from a government source.

Update: Police newspaper censorship relaxed

12th June 2010. Based on article from sudantribune.com

The Sudanese General Union of Sudanese Journalists moderated a dialogue between the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and two independent newspapers subject to pre-publication censorship and managed to lift it as a result, state media reported today.

The Secretary general of the pro-government union Mohyideen Tetawi said that they will defend press freedom by all means but at the same time stressed that the country's sovereignty and dignity is a red line cannot be overstepped .

Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir last year lifted press censorship after petitions from the journalists' union but warned editor in chiefs that they should avoid what leads to exceeding the red lines and avoid mixing what is patriotic and what is destructive to the nation, sovereignty, security, values and its morality .

 

29th May   

Update: Brakes on the Internet...

South Africa proposes bill to block all internet porn
Link Here

South Africa flagSouth Africa wants to censor the internet from pornography .

According to the South African government in a statement from The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba: The Internet and Cellphone Pornography Bill proposes that pornography be filtered out at the tier one service providers to avoid it entering the country. The Bill is aimed at the total ban of pornography on internet and mobile phones. United Arab Emirates and Yemen already have legislation in this regard. Australia and New Zealand are currently seeking to do so.

Malusi Gigaba met with Justice Alliance of South Africa that was represented by Advocate Johan Smyth and Brendan Studti. The meeting was part of the ongoing work to draft the bill and to get legal opinion on constitutional issues related to the Internet and Cellphone Pornography Bill.

Current legislation in South Africa already bans child pornography but the proposed bill iwill ban all pornography entirely from computers and cellphones through the internet.

Malusi Gigaba said that Cars are already provided with brakes and seatbelts, it is not an extra that consumers have to pay for. There is no reason why the internet should be provided without the necessary restrictive mechanisms built into it.

 

23rd May   

Update: Blocking Protest...

Police prevent protest against internet blocking in Tunisia
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Tunisia...Blogs and websites banned in Tunisia

Tunisia flagWitnesses say the security forces moved to prevent a planned demonstration by internet users against the blocking of access to internet sites.

There was a strong police presence in the main avenue of the capital and adjoining streets Saturday, after a demonstration was announced in recent days via sites including Twitter and Facebook.

One of the protest organisers, opposition journalist and blogger Soufiane Chourabi, said the protesters had planned to march, wearing T-shirts with slogans such as Lift the lockdown of the internet , to the Ministry of Communications. He said organisers had applied to the Interior Ministry for permission to hold the demonstration, but received no reply.

 

22nd May   

Update: Torn Off a Strip...

Sudan censors two opposition newspapers
Link Here  full story: Press Censorship in Sudan...Press is routinely censored

ajras al hurriya logoSudanese security officers stormed two newspapers tearing up articles ready for printing, employees said.

Authorities went to the offices of the Ajras al-Hurriya, which is linked to the former southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement and the independent daily Al-Sahafa, and confiscated articles.

Security officers also went to the offices of the Al-Sahafa daily and demanded to see editorial material and opinion columns, an employee said.

The move comes just days after authorities shut down the Rai al-Shaab newspaper of Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi, and detained four employees.

 

2nd May   

Offsite: Sharing Repression...

Tunisia blocks most major video sharing websites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Tunisia...Blogs and websites banned in Tunisia

flickr logoTunisia is carrying out one of the most massive wave of online censorship targeting major social websites, video-sharing websites, blogs aggregators, blogs, facebook pages and profiles. The most recent victim of this wave is flickr, the popular and one of the best online photo-sharing website, blocked today, April 28th, 2010.

Last week, on April 22, 2010, Tunisia has added 3 more websites to its list of banned video-sharing websites in the country. Blip.tv, metacafe.com and vidoemo.com are not welcome aymore in the country. In early April, 2010, WAT.TV, another social networking and media-sharing website, which is believed to be the 3rd video broadcaster on the Internet in France, has also been blocked.

The targeting of video-sharing websites by Tunisian censors started on September 3rd, 2007, with the ban of Dailymotion, then it was the turn of Youtube to be banned from the country's Internet on November 2nd, 2007.

...Read full article

 

24th April   

Voting for Repression...

Sudan blacks election monitoring website
Link Here

sudan vote monitor logo Access to the Sudan Vote Monitor website , a collaborative platform created by Sudanese civil society with the aim of facilitating independent monitoring and reporting of the current elections and their results, has been partially or totally blocked for the past six days.

The elections, which began on 11 April and which are the first multiparty general elections in Sudan since 1986, have been marked by allegations of irregularities.

We demand the immediate and total unblocking of this website, which is used by NGOs, journalists and ordinary citizens to report fraud and irregularities in these historic elections, Reporters Without Borders said: Respect for freedom of expression is an essential condition for the holding of free and fair elections.

The press freedom organisation added: At time when criticism is coming from all quarters, this act of censorship is reinforcing doubts about the transparency of these elections. It sets a dangerous precedent for other upcoming votes, such as the crucial referendum on self-determination for the south that is supposed to be held by next January.

 

21st April   

Cape Censorship...

South Africa looking to block all internet porn
Link Here

South Africa flagFollowing recent remarks by South Africa's Deputy Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba expressing interest in a law to ban porn from being transmitted on the internet, cell phones and television, Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx has warned the government against the idea, saying it is futile, will only cost the country a lot of money to enforce and could make the country a global pariah in terms of corporate investment.

It's not possible to ban internet porn unless government becomes a nanny state over what everyone does over the Internet, said Goldstuck. It would require enormous resources from internet providers and extensive resources from government.

Home Affairs Minister Gigaba said that he also wants South Africa to not only join the global fight against the spread of child pornography, but also to work to protect children in general from porn in the mass media.

We are still awaiting the report of the Law Reform Commission on our request for advice on the possibility to prohibit pornography in the mass media, public broadcasters as well as internet and mobile phones, he said in a speech in Parliament, adding, We are determined that we should have legislation ... to protect our children. Those who want to view pornography must do so in the privacy of well-regulated adult shops.

 

16th April   

Article 29...

Opposing a new repressive media censorship law for Uganda
Link Here

Uganda flagA proposed media law is a monster, says Dr George Lugalambi, chair of a coalition fighting to preserve press freedom in Uganda.

Publishers and journalists would have to apply annually for a licence, which could be revoked at will in the interests of national security, stability and unity, or if coverage was deemed to be economic sabotage.

Professor Fredrick Jjuuko, a media law expert says such provisions violate the constitution: The constitution provides for a freedom of expression and media and the presumption is that means for everybody. The new bill is making this freedom exclusive for those with university degrees which is unfair.

Lugalambi, who is also head of the Department of Mass Communication at Makerere University, says the Ugandan media is already burdened with repressive laws such as the one that makes it a crime to publish unfavourable information about government activities and public officials. Lugalambi's coalition - known as Article 29 after the section of Uganda's constitution that guarantees freedom of expression - calls on the government to support self-regulatory initiatives.

But Princess Kabakumba Labwoni Matsiko, Uganda's minister for information, insists she will go ahead with the proposed bill: Freedoms go with responsibilities. Do you want a media that does not follow any rules? What we are proposing is to create a responsible media and Ugandans will have chance to contribute when it's finally tabled in parliament. They write (about) everything. They draw cartoons of the president and sometimes pornography, like in the Red Pepper tabloid .

 

15th April   

Offsite: Bloggers under Duress...

Formerly Jailed Moroccan Blogger Bashir Hazzam Tells His Story
Link Here  full story: Blogging in Morocco...Bloggers under duress in Morocco

bashir hazzamOn December 2, 2009, the peace was interrupted in a southern Morocco town by the clamors of local students protesting their difficult situation and lack of decent infrastructure.

The peaceful march was violently confronted by the authorities who proceeded to arrest a number of students. Later that day, an ad hoc committee was created to support the arrested protesters. It issued a statement calling for the immediate release of the students and condemned what it described as harsh and barbaric treatment by the authorities.

Bashir Hazzam, a blogger from the region published the statement along with links to a video taken at the scene.

A couple of days later, Bashir, and Abdullah Boukfou, the owner of the Internet caf้ frequented by the blogger, were arrested and accused of publishing false information harmful to the image of the country on human rights.

...Read the full article

 

12th April   

Update: Tunes of Repression...

Mogadishu radio stations told to stop broadcasting music
Link Here  full story: Sharia in Somalia...Somalia adopts sharia law

Somalia flagThe Somali insurgent group, Hisbul Islam has imposed oppressive edicts on the radio stations in Mogadishu, especially those based in the areas under their control. Music has again been banned.

The edicts instruct stations not to air music and songs and not to name the foreign fighters as foreigners, but rather to refer to them as Muhaajiriin .

This is the first time the media stations in Mogadishu are facing such public censorship. Six of the eight radio stations under the Hisbul Islam and Al-Shabaab-held neighbourhoods of Mogadishu will be directly affected by these oppressive edicts.

Similar edicts have been imposed on media stations in the southern Somalia regions held by the radical Islamist group Al-Shabaab.

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) from Mogadishu strongly protested the increased censorship.

 

5th April   

Zimbabwe Still Battered and Bruised...

Temporary reprieve for art exhibition showing state violence
Link Here

Zimbabwe flagApplause broke out at a Zimbabwe exhibition as seized photos were returned.

24 hours earlier, police had barged into the gallery, seized the photographs and arrested Okay Machisa, an activist who organised their exhibition. The police claimed the 66 pictures were lewd because they showed nudity and that the subjects had not given their consent.

No one doubted their real motive was that the exhibition, Reflections , contained devastating images of the political violence that wracked Zimbabwe two years ago. They included a man lying on a hospital bed, a livid wound where his leg used to be, and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), his face battered and swollen.

Human rights activists went to the high court and obtained an order for the pictures to be returned. So they were rehung in the gallery courtyard just minutes before Tsvangirai himself arrived to formally open the exhibition.

Tsvangirai called for more such exhibitions and said that Machisa, who was nowhere to be seen, had no need to remain in hiding. He told the gathering: He should come out. No one is going to threaten him.

But as so often in Zimbabwe, he spoke too soon. Shortly after the prime minister's departure, the police returned, warning that they would be back to impound the photos before the night was out. So as the last guests melted away, the organisers could be seen frantically taking the pictures down and rushing them to a car so they could be driven to a secret location. The exhibition has been cancelled, though there are plans to revive it elsewhere.

 

26th March   

Musical Activism...

Zimbabwe musician creates news website to promote freedom of expression
Link Here

viomak news logo Zimbabwe banned and censored protest singer Viomak has launched her own news site www.viomaknews.com. The news site which features her own stories and opinions is like a diary of her musical activism life since 2005.

The singer whose stories are banned in State newspapers for her stance against ZANUPF and Mugabe also promotes freedom of expression through music in a country that is struggling politically, economically and socially .She was also banned by the independent Zimbabwe Standard newspaper after she suspected the paper's reporter Vusumuzi Sifile-Sibanda of being a CIO.

With six protest music albums under her name the singer cum political activist is well known for her courage in tackling the situation in Zimbabwe head on through protest music and vibrant activism that has also seen her spearhead a campaign to have Zimbabwe leaders declare their personal assets to monitor corruption.

Her activism and outspokenness has seen her amass a lot of enemies which is one reason why she is banned in Zimbabwe newspapers. Zimbabwe's Censorship and Entertainment Control Act censors undesirable music and it doesn't allow the distribution or selling of undesirable recordings so writing her stories in State newspaper is forbidden.

The singer also runs an internet radio station VOTO (Voices of the Oppressed) that promotes the work of Zimbabwe protest artists. Her protest music is banned on state radio so in 2007, she was instrumental in setting up an internet radio station to evade music censorship.

 

24th March   

Cut Off from Humanity...

Nigerian court silences Facebook debate about amputation for theft
Link Here

Facebook logo A Nigerian Islamic Sharia court has banned Twitter and Facebook debates on the country's first wrist amputation for theft, according to court papers seen by AFP.

A Kaduna court ordered the Civil Rights Congress (CRC), one of the country's leading rights groups, to suspend its Twitter and Facebook online debates on the amputation, which was carried out in 2000.

The court granted an interim injunction restraining the respondents either by themselves or their agents... from opening a chat forum on Facebook, Twitter, or any blog for the purpose of the debate on the amputation of Malam Buba Bello Jangebe, said the order.

Jangebe was the first person to have had his right hand amputated on the orders of a Sharia court in Zamfara State, a year after 12 northern Nigerian states adopted the strict Islamic penal code.

The order followed a suit filed by the Association of Muslim Brotherhood of Nigeria, a pro-Sharia group based in the northern political capital of Kaduna, which argued that Internet forums would be used as a mockery of the Sharia system as negative issues will be discussed .

 

23rd March   

Updated: Censorial Static...

Voice of America radio jammed in Ethiopia
Link Here  full story: Satellite TV Jammed in Ethiopia...Ethiopian government act as political censors

Voice of America logo International shortwave radio monitors have confirmed that VOA broadcasts in the Amharic language are being jammed in Ethiopia.

The static began February 22 on all five VOA shortwave frequencies aimed at East Africa in the 25 and 31-meter shortwave bands.

The other foreign broadcast heard in Ethiopia, the German government's Deutsche Welle Amharic language program, also reports experiencing some interference, in the past few days.

VOA and Deutsche Welle were jammed around the time of the last parliament election in 2005, and again before the 2008 nationwide local elections. The next crucial parliament vote is scheduled for May 23.

Ethiopian officials have often described VOA's Amharic Service as the voice of the opposition , saying its broadcasts reveal an anti-government bias.

The Voice of America is a multi-media international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government. VOA broadcasts more than 1,500 hours of news and other programming every week in 49 languages.

Update: More Damning Jamming

23rd March 2010. Based on article from portalangop.co.ao

US flag The United States condemned Ethiopia's blocking of Voice of America broadcasts.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi earlier admitted to jamming the US government-funded VOA broadcasts in Amharic, saying he was prepared to censor the broadcasts because of the service's destabilizing propaganda.

Update: Website Blocked

1st April 2010. See  article from  indexoncensorship.org

The Ethiopian government has been accused of blocking the website of US broadcaster Voice of America (VOA) as a row over press intimidation continues to escalate in the Horn of Africa. Residents of the capital Addis Ababa have been unable to access the site since early on Sunday,

 

16th March   

Facing up to Easy Offence...

Moroccan Secular group incurs the wrath of Facebook
Link Here

deleted facebook group Over the past few years, Facebook has come under scrutiny a number of times for its seeming hypocrisy on what types of groups it deems inappropriate. Although the site's terms of service (TOS) ban everything from nudity, to speech deemed hateful, to using a pseudonym to open an account, they are selectively enforced.

The TOS appear only to be enforced when enough users report a group as inappropriate, and once a group is removed, its creators often find it impossible to get it back. Users whose personal accounts are removed sometimes create a new account, only to find it deleted again soon afterward.

Moroccan activist Kacem El Ghazzali was recently subjected to Facebook's TOS when a group he had created, entitled Jeunes pour la séparation entre Religion et Enseignement (youth for the separation between religion and education), was promptly removed. El Ghazzali emailed Facebook, but received no response. Two days later, his personal account had been deleted from Facebook as well. He says that while the group was live, he received emails from Muslims who opposed the group, as well as other groups he had created.

El Ghazzali's group, and his account, both appear to have been well within both U.S. law and Facebook's TOS. Why then, did Facebook delete them? Was it under pressure from another country's government, or did enough people simply report the group that Facebook automatically removed it? In any case, why doesn't Facebook offer recourse for its users to report accounts and groups removed in error, as other sites such as YouTube and Blogger do?

Since his account and groups do not appear to be in violation of Facebook's TOS, it seems that Facebook is now policing speech, possibly at the behest of a foreign government.

 

11th March   

Censoring the News...

Ivory Coast bans France 24 TV News over reports of deaths at protest
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france 24 logo Ivory Coast has suspended satellite TV news station France 24 over a headline reporting many deaths during a protest, the government said on Wednesday, despite the fact that five people were killed.

The National Council for Audiovisual Communication scrambled France 24's signal late on Monday and it has not been restored.

The council (CNCA) President Franck Kouassi told Reuters the station would remain suspended until further notice.

 

3rd March   

Update: No Kano Do...

Religious police ban music festival in Nigeria
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Nigeria flag Sharia police ordered the closure of an annual music festival funded and organised by the French embassy in northern Nigeria at the weekend.

We have banned the music festival for the reason that we were not notified and our permission was not sought, Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, head of the film censorship board in the northern Kano region, told AFP.

The French embassy said they had been told they could not stage the event at the local French cultural centre as they did not have prior authorisation.

Following a notification by the Kano state censorship board, the Kano festival of music is cancelled the French embassy said in a statement emailed to AFP.

 

3rd February   

Offsite: Journal of Censorship...

Morocco loses a beacon of freedom
Link Here  full story: Royal Censorship in Morocco...Law puts the Moroccan king above comment

Le Journal The closure of the daring magazine Le Journal Hebdomadaire is a sign of renewed authoritarianism in Morocco

Last Thursday, I learned from the man behind Le Journal, Abou Bakr Jamai, that bailiffs had come to the magazine's office, just as its journalists were putting the final touches on a new issue, to seize its assets. A series of crippling libel fines and debts to the tax authorities had driven it to bankruptcy. We can already officially announce the death of Le Journal, Jamai told me. I was shaken to learn that no more issues of Le Journal would appear, although not surprised. It had become clear for several years that the palace – whether the king himself or his coterie of advisers – had given up on trying to co-opt or intimidate the magazine, as it has done with many other publications, and would sooner or later succeed in pushing it into oblivion by economic means.

...Read full article

 

10th January   

Hard Times...

Kenya broadcasting laws come into force
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Kenya flagKenya's government has gazetted new laws that will regulate the broadcast media, setting the stage for a battle with Media Owners and journalists.

The government announced that the Kenya Communications (Broadcasting) regulations 2009 became law from January 1, this year, and TV stations must now brace for hard times including possible closure.

The chairman of the Kenya Editors' Guild, Macharia Gaitho, described the regulations as retrogressive and obnoxious. The Ministry of Information, he said, had employed subterfuge and deceit in publishing the regulations despite an agreement with media partners last year mediated by Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The toughest rules include censorship of content, limiting sex talk on FM radio stations and adult movies on television to after 10pm, banning of cross media ownership and setting rules for political coverage during general elections.

Information and Communication PS Bitange Ndemo said: There is nowhere in world where there is absolute freedom. We have to curtail some freedom for the sake of the majority, the PS said.

The new rules also introduced term licences where media owners will have seven years before reapplying for frequencies unlike in the past when the period was unlimited. Those with inactive frequencies will have to surrender them.

Any person who contravenes any provision of these regulations commits an offence and on conviction shall be liable to a fine not exceeding a million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or both.

The laws state in part that a licensee shall generally ensure that no broadcasts by its station contains the use of offensive language, including profanity and blasphemy, presents sexual matters in an explicit and offensive manner, or glorifies violence.

The content should not incite or perpetuate hatred or vilify any person or section of the community on account of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual preference, age, disability, religion or culture.

 

6th January   

State Censors...

Algeria starts censoring the internet
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AlgeriaAlgeria is the latest Arab country to join the ranks of Internet filterers, leaving only Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and Lebanon without widespread filtering.

The first report of a blocked site came about a week ago, when users on Twitter reported www.rachad.org, the site of political movement Mouvement Rachad to be blocked. The sites have since been reported to Herdict.

The blog Algerian Review outlines the filtering and calls on Algerian Internet users to sign a petition against the creation of a filtering regime