Kenya's National Assembly has passed contentious anti-press legislation, the Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Act and the Media Council Act, which will effectively silence critical reporting through a new government-controlled regulator
and the threat of hefty fines.
CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes said:
These media laws will force journalists and news outlets to self-censor to survive. They are a severe blow to investigative
reporting in Kenya. The laws also set a dangerous precedent for other East African countries which take their cue from Kenya, traditionally a regional leader in the industry.
The Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Act and
the Media Council Act will enable a new government-controlled regulatory board to fine journalists up to 500,000 Kenyan shillings (US$5,500) and media companies up to 20 million shillings (US$230,000) if the board finds them in breach of a
government-dictated code of conduct, to be penned by legislators.
South Africa's satellite service TopTV made a bit of a name for itself by getting permission to broadcast 3 sex channels including hardcore porn.
But the service got in financial troubles and has now effectively been taken over by China's StarTimes TV
conglomerate following a cash bail-out. TopTV is now renamed to StarSat.
StarSat's porn channels are already running although StarTimes are not publicising the fact.
Instead of the three sex channels applied for, and for which South
Africa's broadcasting regulator granted permission, two of the pornographic channels -- Private Spice and Playboy TV -- are already available in a separate sex TV package of R159 per month.
Although no mention is being made of the porno package in
press releases or marketing materials, the package is available to subscribers who call the call centre and request the porno bouquet specifically. It's not yet clear why the third applied for sex channel, Desire TV, is not available, and whether it
would be added later.
On Thursday, Kenya's National Assembly passed the third reading of the Kenya Information and Communications Bill. It will allow government to censor the media with an iron hand. It is now up to President Uhuru Kenyatta to decide whether to sign this Bill
into law, or to return it to the National Assembly.
The key problem in the new Bill is the creation of a Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal which has been given sweeping powers to discipline the media. It can levy fines of up to Sh20
million on media houses and seize their property if they do not pay. This is a big enough fine to put most media houses out of business. It is grossly excessive. By comparison, the normal highest award for libel is Sh6 million.
The tribunal can
also impose fines of Sh1 million on individual journalists and remove their practicing certificates, which will effectively ban them from working. It is unconstitutional to ban journalists from writing. It infringes freedom of information.
tribunal does not have to follow any guidelines in deciding whether a journalist or media house has infringed the code of ethics. It is not bound by rules of evidence . It can decide whatever it wants. It can rule that a particular story was
insulting to the president of a neighbouring country, or a politician, or whoever, and fine the media house accordingly.
The tribunal can use its big stick any way it wants to, without justification and without rules.
To make matters worse,
this tribunal is directly appointed by the Cabinet Secretary for Information. He appoints the selection panel and chooses the tribunal members based on their recommendations.
The only hope now is that President Uhuru Kenyatta has always insisted
that he is fully committed to maintaining a free media. Uhuru must send this Bill back to Parliament. Otherwise Kenya is doomed to censorship.
On Digital Media is relaunching TopTV as StarSat with the pornographic bouquet of sex channels from December in time for the consumer festive season.
The South African satellite pay-TV operator received permission from the South African broadcasting
regulator to broadcast pornographic TV channels at the end of April 2013 and will now start showing those from December when the TopTV brand is dumped for the new name StarSat.
The Playboy bouquet with an R18 rating supplied by Playboy TV UK /
Benelux Limited in England will run from 20:00 to 05:00 daily with three channels, Playboy TV and the hardcore Desire TV and Private Spice.
Of Good Report achieved notoriety in South Africa where it was banned by the film censors. The film follows an introverted school teacher in rural South Africa who starts an obsessive sexual affair with a 16-year-old pupil (played by a 23 year
old actress) with tragic consequences,
The film screened this week at the London International Film Festival, where director, Jahmil X.T. Qubeka said he is not quite sure if the film's infamy is a blessing or a curse:
It's a double edged sword for me, on the one level this is a small film, it's an independent film, so by definition you will always be struggling and jostling for attention for a film like that especially on a wider scale, in terms of
the world of films -- it has no stars, it's in black and white, it's a South African film, so really in terms of attention not many people would have heard of the film had the banning not happened. So the now I am 'the banned film from South Africa' that
has given it some kind attention. However, I say it's a double edged sword because on the other hand who wants to be associated with child pornography?'
South Africa's press ombudsman has declined a request to ban the use of the words Islamist militants and militant Islam from newspaper reports.
An organisation called United Muslim Nations International claimed that the use of terms
like Islamist militants and militant Islam was defamatory and highly offensive.
Ombudsman Johan Retief replied in a letter that he could not instruct publications on editorial content or policy as that amounted to censorship. Retief
did not feel the terms in question crossed ethical borders .
Sheik Faarooq al Mohammedi of the Muslim group said it would appeal against the decision.
According to the independent news website WND, Al Mohammedi is the author of a
23-page booklet containing a plan to wipe Christianity from the face of the earth .
The President is a Cameroon film by Jean-Piere Bekalo With Gerard Essomba, Valery Indongo and Valsero
Kenya's BuniTV has hosted an online release of the banned Cameroonian film The President: "How Do You Know Its Time to Go?"
, directed by Jean-Pierre Bekolo.
According to Buni TV, the move will make it possible for Cameroonians inside and outside the West African country to access the film following its swift banning by the government.
The film is a story
about a fictional president who disappears days before the general election, and refers to Cameroon's strongman President Paul Biya, who has been in power for more than three decades.
Director Bekolo Said:
Today, new technologies provide a solution for filmmakers in countries that still impose censorship on cinema and where freedom of speech is still threatened. Online distribution will make The President widely available, and hopefully this will lead to real dialogue on the issues the film raises.
The film premiered at the Durban International Film Festival in July and touches on a number of taboo subjects including the ailing health of President Biya, who spends most of his time outside the country for treatment, and a
reflection of other presidents in similar circumstances including Eduardo de Santos, of Angola, and Zambia's Michael Sata said to be in India or London.
This film, although set in Cameroon, is said to be a reflection of a number of African
countries including Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi and Nigeria whose presidents have died in power after undergoing treatment for years amid denial from aides and parties.
The film will be available from October 12 BuniTV's subscription service.
The Johannesburg Art Fair has, perhaps understandably, refused to exhibit a satirical painting by Ayanda Mabulu.
The work titled Yakhal'inkomo (Black Man's Cry), is about the deadly shooting at Lonmin's Marikana mine in the North West. On
16 August 2012, 34 striking miners were gunned down during a confrontation with police.
The artwork depicts a miner depicted with bull's horns being attacked by President Jacob Zuma's dog - the police. The president is seen stepping on a dying
Mabulu told Eyewitness News:
The painting speaks about the slaughter of black people, black miners, poor people and the marginalised, by those in power, including our president and those who
control the economy.
I'm going to continue talking about these stories regardless of who says what.
All internet connections to Sudan were cut off abruptly on Wednesday afternoon, after riots erupted in northern Khartoum over the ending of fuel subsidies.
The move to cut connections appears to have been done by the government to prevent protesters
using social media to organise riots.
Protests broke out after the Sudanese government removed fuel subsidies, with several petrol stations and a university building set on fire, Reuters reported. Security forces fired teargas to disperse dozens
of protesters who have demonstrated and set fire to a police station in Khartoum. The protests have gone on for three days after Sudan's Council of Ministers decided to stop the subsidies. That caused an immediate doubling in the price of fuel.
Offsite: Sudan blacks out internet to hide brutal suppression of protests
Authorities in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in Somalia have banned a private local TV based in UK from operating in the area.
The reason cited is not airing the speech of regional administration's President, during the New Deal for Somalia
meeting in Brussels. Abdurahman Mohamed Farole was among regional leader invited to participate the conference on 16 September, but his speech at the meeting was not aired by all the Somali owned televisions.
The Information Ministry of Puntland
said in a statement that the TV did not air the speech for a reason of hatred and hostility . Defending the pride and the rights of its people. Puntland bans all Universal TV operations inside Puntland [until further notice] .
Universal Television is a Somali television channel with studio in London, Mogadishu and Hargaysa. It is regarded as the largest Somali satellite TV and was the first of its kind.
The Cape Town Fish Market has apologised for a television advert the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) claimed offended black people and must be withdrawn.
The commercial features a white man playing different characters to demonstrate how
truth can be bent in order to mislead. The character uses his fingers to show inverted commas to indicate that sometimes fresh fish is not really fresh. In one scene his face is blackened and he speaks in a thick African accent.
after considering complaints lodged by two people, banned the advert.
In its ruling, the ASA said the complainants found the commercial to be offensive as it portrayed a stereotype that black politicians were liars.
This technique is known as 'blackface', and is an inherently racist form of acting. The black character is depicted with derogatory intention, speaks with a thick accent and recalls a stereotypical black dictator. To achieve the
desired result of showing a corrupt official, there was no need for the man to be made out to be black.
Tunisian authorities arrested cameraman Mourad Mehrezi,whose for filming someone throwing an egg at the minister of culture.
The authorities claim that Mehrezi was involved in the protest but the only evidence against Mehrezi is an alleged confession
he says he did not sign. The director of his television station has said he was present filming for his station.
Police arrested Mehrezi, who works for Astrolabe TV, on August 18, 2013, two days after he caught on camera the film director
Nasreddine Shili hitting Culture Minister Mehdi Mabrouk in the face with an egg. On August 23 the public prosecutor brought charges against Mehrezi that include conspiracy to assault a public servant and harming public morals. Mehrezi's trial will start
on September 5.
Of Good Report is a 2013 South Africa thriller by Jahmil XT Qubeka. With Stevel Marc, Petronella Tshuma and Mothusi Magano.
Censorship marred the opening of the 34th Durban International Film Festival
(Diff) when the Film and Publication Board banned the opening film, Of Good Report.
Instead of the opening sequence to Jahmil XT Qubeka's drama about a teacher who embarks on a sexual relationship with a pupil, the film-makers and invited
guests read the following on the Suncoast Cinema screen:
This film has been refused classification by the Film and Publications Act 1996.
Unfortunately we may not legally screen the film Of Good
Report, as to do so would constitute a criminal offence.
According to the censor board's classification committee they stopped watching the film at 28 minutes and 16 seconds because the film contained child pornography. At this point
in the film 16-year-old Nolitha (played by 23-year-old Petronella Tshuma) is depicted in her Grade 9 school uniform. Since she had engaged in a sexual act with an adult in a preceding scene, this is depiction of child pornography, according to the board.
In an e-mailed letter to the Diff manager, Peter Machen, the board refused to classify the film and ordered the festival to either destroy or surrender copies of the film to the police.
The film makers will now appeal the ban.
Good Report producer Mike Auret, of Spier Films, said the film had been picked up for screening at the next Berlin, Rotterdam, Toronto and Dubai film festivals.
A South African censorship appeals tribunal has lifted a ban on a film that was barred as child pornography over a sex scene between a schoolteacher and a pupil depicted as 16, but played by a 23 year old actress.
The film is now passed
as suitable for viewers aged 16 and above with warnings of sex, nudity, violence and strong language.
The local film Of Good Report was cleared after a challenge by the organisers of the Durban International Film Festival where it was meant
to be the opening feature last week. The film will now be screened on Sunday, the final day of the festival.
The country's censorship authority said it was very disappointed and saddened by the move to set aside its decision by its appeals
rapper Weld El 15 (real name Alaa Yaacoubi) walked free from Tunis's Court of Appeal today after his jail sentence for insulting police was reduced from two years to a six month suspended sentence, Padraig Reidy writes
According to AFP, the
rapper's lawyer Ghazi Mrabet hailed the court decision as a victory for liberty, for democracy, and for Weld el 15, who did nothing but create a work of art.
Two Tunisian rappers Aladine Yacoubi (aka Weld EL 15) and Ahmed Ben Ahmed (aka Klay BBJ) have been sentenced in absentia to 21 months in jail. A
court in Hammamet issued the verdict on 29 August without summoning the two rappers to appear for trial, their lawyer Ghazi Mrabet said yesterday.
We are surprised by this verdict...Our clients have not been summoned for trial as it is
stipulated by law, Mrabet told the privately-owned radio station Mosaique FM. They were found guilty of insulting civil servants , undermining public decency and defamation.
On 22 August, police arrested the two rappers as they
were on stage performing a rap concert at a music festival in Hammamet and physically assaulted them. They were detained, for targeting police' in their songs, the local chief police officer told the collective blog Nawaat.
A Tunisian court has sentenced a rapper to six months in prison for singing excerpts of an anti-police song at a concert, his lawyer said on Thursday.
Ahmed and fellow rapper Alaa Yacoub were convicted in absentia last month and sentenced to 21 months in prison. Ahmed sought a retrial resulting in the 6 month sentence, whilst Yacoub remains in hiding.
The Kenya Film Classification Board has warned producers of pornography. Director of information Owiti Olewe said the board will work with police to carry out spots checks and arrest those found breaking the law including those with pornographic
Olewe said pornography is illegal in Kenya:
The rise in distribution, exhibition and production of pornography and other programmes which depict elements of violence, drugs and alcohol should act as
warning signs to the public.
Olewe said the board has in the past restricted films such as Movie 43 and Paradise Love which display some pornographic elements:
More of these kinds of
films are accessed by the public through unlicensed distributors and exhibitors and have gradually been accepted as normal.
The illegal seizure of wind-up radios reached new levels with reports that the police are now using primary school pupils to source information about the receivers.
Villagers in Lupane revealed that the police have been visiting schools and asking
infant children aged between 4 and 6 years whether their parents own or listen to any radios.
This follows reports that suspected state security agents raided several homesteads at Mpofu village in the Gwampa area and confiscated the wind-up
Speaking to SW Radio Africa one villager who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said the police have been going to schools, writing down names, and then visiting those suspected of owning the radios by night.
said she suspects the police are aware of the popularity of shortwave radios in the area, hence they are now confiscating them:
The police have been announcing that villagers should not be in possession of these
radios. Their reason is that we listen to news broadcasts from outside the country which criticise ZANU PF.
The launch of TopTV's porn channels is being delayed by the business rescue process the satellite pay-TV operator is currently undergoing,
according to a report in the Sunday Times.
The paper quotes Peter van den Steen, On Digital Media's business rescue practitioner, as saying in an update to creditors last week that enacting the rescue plan was not straight-forward, making it was
taking longer than anticipated.
The Committee to Project Journalists condemns a recent decision by the Nigerian government to ban the exhibition and distribution of a documentary film on corruption in the state's management of oil wealth, Fuelling Poverty.
government-run National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) called the contents of the 30-minute film by Ishaya Bako:
Highly provocative and likely to incite or encourage public disorder and undermine national
The board, whose members are all appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan, warned Bako that all relevant national security agencies are on the alert to ensure that he does not exhibit or distribute the film.
CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita said from New York:
Instead of banning the documentary 'Fuelling Poverty,' authorities should look into the important questions it raises about corruption and impunity in the country's oil sector and at the highest levels of government.
We urge Nigeria's National Film and Video Censors Board to overturn this censorship order.
Wearing of miniskirts could soon land one in jail or attract heavy fines if Uganda's Parliament approves a new piece of legislation that defines anything sexy to be illegal pornagraphy.
In its current form, it is proposed that those found
guilty of abetting pornography face a fine of Shs10 million under the draft law or a jail stint not exceeding 10 years, or both.
But the draft law ran into early turbulence in the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee after some members
expressed concerns about its wide reaching implications for freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution. MPs in the committee also criticised the government's attempts to legislate for sex, a course of action which could see it labelling some age-old
cultural practices as pornographic.
The Bill defines pornography as any cultural practice, form of behaviour or form of communication or speech or information or literature or publication in whole or publication in part or news story or
entertainment or stage play or broadcast or music or dance or art or graphic or picture or photography or video recording or leisure activity or show or exhibition. Lawmakers said the Bill's definition of pornography was too broad and that it went
against Uganda's tradition of being tolerant of cultural diversity.
Members, however, flatly rejected the minister's proposal to establish an Anti-Pornography Committee, observing that the police would enforce the law.
It also prohibits any
combination of the preceding that depicts unclothed or under clothed parts of the human body such as breasts, thighs, buttocks and genitalia, a person engaged in explicit sexual activities or conduct; erotic behaviour intended to cause sexual excitement
and any indecent act or behaviour tending to corrupt morals.
'Ethics' Minister Reverend Simon Lokodo, an extremist noted for a string of repressive law proposals, presented the proposed law backed by Deputy Attorney General Fred Ruhindi. He
claimed the Bill was needed to protect women and children against exploitation and curb increasing immorality. Lokodo spewed:
The need to put in place a law that prohibits pornography is necessitated by the dangers it
poses to moral fabric of the society
While the Bill seeks to outlaw indecent dressing among other social behaviours deemed pornographic under the legal parameters of the Bill, other lawmakers said the lack of definition for what
constitutes "decent dressing" makes the Bill awkward and asked the government to stop curtailing freedoms in the country which could scare away tourists.
The Uganda Law Reform Commission (ULRC) has asked Parliament to throw out the newly-tabled Anti- Pornography Bill 2011, arguing that the government can fight pornography without enacting a new law. Patrick Nyakana, a ULRC
commissioner told Parliament:
We conclude that the provisions of the Anti-Pornography Bill 2011 are already catered for in the Penal Code Act, the Computer Misuse Act, Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act 2009 and
other laws and thus, there is no need for this law.
Togolese police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse journalists protesting new censorship authority granted to the government media regulator, according to news reports and local journalists.
CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita
We condemn the reckless and heavy-handed actions of Togolese police against journalists peacefully marching in defense of press freedom. Adopting broad new censorship powers and then violently dispersing those
who protest them are not the actions one expects in a free society.
Under the new amendments, HAAC can now revoke the operating licenses of Togolese media outlets without judicial process, news reports said. HAAC is composed of nine
members, four of whom are directly nominated by Togo's president and the other five of whom are nominated by the Togolese parliament which is controlled by the president's supporters, local journalists told CPJ.
The new amendments sparked outrage
from journalists and human rights groups who began protesting on March 12 to condemn the law as illegal and in contravention of Togo's constitution. The constitution states that only a court of law can ban a media organization after a petition has been
brought before it by the HAAC.
Update: But unlike Britain, Togo has a constitutional court that throws out repressive laws
The Committee to Protect Journalists has
welcomed a ruling by Togo's Constitutional Court to reject repressive amendments to a media law that granted the state-run media regulator sweeping powers of censorship.
A panel of judges declared that six articles of Togo's 2009 press law, which
were amended on February 19 by the ruling party-controlled National Assembly, were inconsistent with the constitution, according to news reports. The decision effectively nullifies the new measures.
The amendments had granted the High Authority
for Broadcasting and Communication (HAAC), Togo's state-run media regulatory body, the power to, among other actions, summarily shut down news outlets and seize their equipment without a court order.
The police in Kano, Nigeria, have arrested three staff members of Wazobia FM 95.1 Kano and a former director general, Kano State censorship board, Rabo Abdulkareem over a radio programme which may have instigated the killing of 9 polio vaccinators.
Radio Wazobia, on its popular Hausa magazine programme Sandar girma , allegedly aired an item about the polio vaccine which the presenters claimed was laced with chemicals that were likely to cause infertility and hence reduce
In the wake of the event, unknown gunmen stormed polio vaccine centres at Tarauni Local Government in the state killing nine female polio vaccinators and injuring many.
A member of staff of Wazobia FM, told LEADERSHIP about the
arrests by the team of policemen. LEADERSHIP gathered that Rabo Abdulkareem may be indicted over his alleged view that:
I will always be defiant to Polio vaccination because nobody will convince me that it wasn't
an act that goes against the will of Allah and it wasn't a deliberate western conspiracy against our children.
Update: Shouting fire in a crowded cinema and then getting press freedom groups to support the
statement on grounds of freedom of expression
The radio station that broadcast the programme implicated in incitement to murder polio vaccinators has unsurprising been taken off air. Nigeria's media regulatory body shut down the radio station in connection with the broadcast that questioned the
local government's motives in implementing an anti-polio vaccination program. The authorities accused the station of violating a part of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code that prohibits the use of language likely to encourage or incite crime, or lead to
However anti-censorship campaigners have taken issue with this decision and contend that this is censorship.
Nigerian press freedom group Media Rights Agenda cited that the commission did not include specific examples of the
show inciting crime or disorder. The groups seems to have convinced the Committee to Protect Journalists that the criticism of the polio vaccination programme was political comment and so should not be censored.
CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator
Mohamed Keita said:
Nigerian authorities closed Wazobia FM because they did not like its critical coverage... and then they cloaked their decision in highly charged but unsupported allegations of incitement, We call on
the National Broadcasting Commission to reverse this censorship order immediately.
The Nigerian Broadcast Commission (NBC) has placed a TV ban on a new set of music videos.
The videos have been banned for different reasons and they are expected to be taken off local television stations. NBC is not able to censor what airs on
cable channels like MTV Base, Soundcity, Trace and Channel O, as well as internet platforms like Youtube and Vimeo.
In a release by the NBC, the videos classified as not to be broadcast in whole or in part , were banned for different
reasons. The videos include and the reasons are as follows:
1. Tillaman ft. Vector- Koma Roll (contains erotic and suggestive dance steps)
2. Wande Coal- Go Low (scenes of nudity in the video)
3. D'Prince - Take Banana (contains
erotic, vulgar words and suggestive dance styles)
4. Flavour- Shake (vulgar and suggestive dance steps)
5. Goldie- Ski Bobo (featuring a minor with suggestive and immoral dance steps)
6. Chuddy K- Brazilian Hair (features children
and ladies with suggestive and erotic dance steps)
7. Timaya- Shake your Bum bum erotic and suggestive dance steps with vulgar lyrics.
8. Psquare- Alingo (erotic scenes at the end of the musical videos)
Ofcom has imposed a £ 25,000 fine on Al Mustakillah Television for the broadcast of two programmes, the first on 9 October 2011 and the second on 25 October 2011.
Al Mustakillah Television was a news, current
affairs and general entertainment service broadcast in Arabic. The Licence for the service was surrendered to Ofcom on 20 November 2012.
Ofcom found that two programmes broadcast by the Al Mustakillah breached several rules of the Code. The
Finding followed complaints from three viewers who considered the programmes broadcast on 9 and 25 October 2011 were used to promote the Popular Petition for Freedom, Justice and Development ( the Popular Petition ) in Tunisia.
understands the Popular Petition was a manifesto written by Dr Mohamed Elhachmi Hamdi ( Dr Hamdi ), who featured in both of these programmes, adopted by the political party known as the Party of Progressive Conservatives in Tunisia. Dr Hamdi is
also sole director and majority shareholder of Al Mustakillah.
Ofcom noted that during these programmes Dr Hamdi himself regularly spoke directly to the camera while setting out in detail the manifesto of the Popular Petition and promoted various
policies and promises of the Popular Petition. These included the provision of: free healthcare for all Tunisians; unemployment benefits; and free travel for those of the age of 65.
This was in breach of Rule 5.4 (Programmes must exclude all
expressions of the views and opinions of the person providing the service on matters of political controversy and matters relating to current public policy).
In its Finding, Ofcom considered the content and views expressed during the 9 October
2011 programme, prior to the Tunisian Election held on 23 October 2011, were almost entirely positive statements about the Popular Petition and the parties adopting it as a manifesto. Any references to other parties during the programme were, in Ofcom's
view pejorative. This was in breach of Rules 6.1 (the rules in Section Five, in particular the rules relating to matters of major political controversy and major matters relating to current public policy, apply to the coverage of elections), 5.11 (due
impartiality must be preserved on matters of major political controversy and matters relating to current public policy) and 5.12 (in dealing with matters of major political controversy and matters relating to current public policy, an appropriately wide
range of significant views must be included and given due weight in each programme or in clearly linked and timely programmes).
Ofcom considered that the programme broadcast on 25 October 2011, i.e. after the Tunisian General Election, dealt with
a matter of political controversy and matters relating to current public policy. The broadcaster did not provide any evidence of the viewpoints of, for example, other Tunisian political parties or their supporters, on the aftermath of the Tunisian
General Election, the future policy direction of Tunisia and the policy platform of the Popular Petition, being included on the channel in a series of programmes taken as a whole. Ofcom therefore considered the 25 October programme to be in breach of
Rule 5.5 of the Code.
Charges against British theatre producer David Cecil were dropped by a Ugandan court on 2nd January. Cecil, who faced trial for producing a play with a gay theme without permission from the country's Media Council, told Index the magistrate had
declared the case dismissed as the prosecution had failed to disclose any evidence.
Cecil was arrested in September last year, when his theatre company refused to halt its production of The River and the Mountain pending a content review by
the Ugandan Media Council.
Index on Censorship and David Lan, the artistic director of the Young Vic, launched a petition calling for the charges against Cecil to be dropped which was signed by more than 2,500 people, including director Mike
Leigh, Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig andactor Simon Callow.
Cecil told Index:
Evidently, there is a minority in the government and cultural industry who are willing to sacrifice the constitutional right to freedom
of expression to their personal prejudices. However, the unsuccessful prosecution of this case is encouraging, and I pray that those working in the cultural industry are not put off by this oppressive and self-interested minority.
Mike Harris, Head of Advocacy at Index on Censorship said:
We're very pleased for David that the magistrate has dismissed this case --- but concerns remain over the state of free speech in Uganda. Since this prosecution, the Media Council has intervened to censor yet another
political play. The government and its agencies need to do more to defend free speech.
David Cecil, the British theatre producer arrested in Uganda in 2012 for staging a play with a homosexual protagonist, is being held in police custody after being threatened with deportation.
Immigration officers took Cecil from his home in the
outskirts of the capital, Kampala, on Thursday to Jinja Road police station, where he is being held. Fridah Mutesi, a human rights lawyer in Uganda, said the government did not disclose the grounds on which Cecil was being deported, but that it had the
power to deport individuals deemed undesirable .
In January Cecil was charged with disobeying lawful orders by the Uganda media council, which said he had staged The River and The Mountain despite being told not to. The case was dismissed
owing to a lack of evidence. It is believed that the deportation order is a result of his staging the play, which Cecil has described as a comedy drama about a gay businessman killed by his employees . The producer's lawyer, Godwin Buwa, said the
government was unhappy about Cecil's court case last month being dismissed.