Moroccan blogger Bashir Hazem was arrested on December 8, 2009 after posting a press release about a clash between students and police on his blog. He has been interrogated about his blogging, specifically his most recent post, which contained
the signatures of a committee of arrested students.
Hazem was detained and put in solitary confinement for a period of time, then rejoined the other detainees in the prison.
A Facebook group [ar] has been created to support blogger Bashir Hazem, who has been detained in Goulmim prison in the south of Morocco for publishing a statement about the intervention of the police force against an inhabitant of the Goulmim, on
his blog Al Boushara ( the good news ).
According to the President of the Moroccan Bloggers Association, Internet cafes in the city are being monitored in order to prevent Internet users from disseminating information about the event, and to prevent riots. The authorities have also
arrested others suspected of spreading news about the protests, including an Internet cafe employee, for possessing protest materials and flyers.
Hazem will face trial on Monday, December 14, 2009.
A Zambian journalist has been acquitted of pornography charges after sending officials pictures of a woman giving birth in a hospital car park.
The incident happened during a nurses' strike and the baby died. Zambian President Rupiah Banda had described the photos as pornographic.
Chansa Kabwela said she had sent them in protest at the effects of the strike that paralysed the country's hospitals.
She would have faced a five-year jail sentence if convicted.
But the magistrate in the case said he had heard nothing to indicate that the photographs were obscene.
Outside the court, Ms Kabwela - who is news editor for The Post newspaper said: This victory to me is a victory for those that suffered during the strike, she said, quoted by South Africa's Sapa news agency: I was confident that I would
Ms Kabwela did not publish the controversial photographs, but sent copies to a number of prominent people and women's rights groups, along with a letter calling for the strike to be brought to an end.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the suspension of six private newspapers by the government-controlled media-monitoring body, the National Communications Council, in Gabon. The council announced the suspensions, which range from one
to three months, on Tuesday evening on state-run TV. The papers have been suspended for violating the ethics of journalism and inciting ethnic divisions according to local reports.
This unprecedented suspension of the private press is intended to silence any potential critics of the election process, said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. The council should immediately lift all of the suspensions.
All the suspended publications had written articles critical of what may have been a flawed election process, local journalists told CPJ.
The papers received immediate suspension sentences. Nku'u Le Messager and Le Crocodile were suspended for one month, Le Scriboullard, L'Ombre, and La Nation for two months and Echos du Nord received a three-month suspension. Two other private
publications, Le Temps and Gabon d'Abord received a warning to maintain professional standards, according to local journalists.
Morocco blocked distribution of an edition of leading Spanish daily newspaper El Pais after it reprinted cartoons deemed disrespectful to the royal family, the newspaper said. Morocco also blocked distribution of editions of the French
newspaper Le Monde over the cartoons.
Moroccan authorities accused the newspapers of attacking the monarchy with the publication of the cartoons.
One of the cartoons is by Le Monde's star cartoonist Plantu and it depicts a hand reaching out of a Moroccan flag to create a child-like drawing of a funny face wearing a crown.
The other is by Moroccan caricaturist Khalid Gueddar and it alludes to the 25 September wedding of Prince Moulay Ismail, a cousin of King Mohammed VI, to a German convert to Islam.
The Federation of Journalist Associations in Spain said it deplored the distribution ban slapped on El Pais, saying in a statement it was regrettable that the Moroccan ministry of communication had opted for censorship .
On Sept. 28, 2009, the government ordered Akbar el Youm silenced, shuttered its offices in Casablanca, and posted policemen at its entrance to prevent any of the newspaper's 70 employees from reaching their desks.
The reason? This cartoon by Khalid Gueddar, published on Sept. 26:
It's Moulay Ismail on his nuptial truss, says the line in Arabic. Moulay Ismail is a cousin of Mohammed VI. He got married to a German woman recently. The faintly Hitlerean pose of the cartoon is gratuitous and vulgar. The Moroccan
ministry of the interior didn't like the cartoon. It called it anti-Semitic for the way it portrayed the Moroccan star apparently as a Star of David.
The ministry then displayed its own anti-Semitism when it charged that the depiction of the national star as a Star of David was an outrage to the flag. The cartoon, the ministry charged, also lacked respect for the royal family --which, in Morocco, must be respected more than humor, truth or justice, as the cartoon case proved: Khaled Gueddar and his editor, Toufik Bouachrine, now face three to five years in prison. Moulay Ismail, the nuptialized prince, is claiming $400,000 in damages.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) strongly condemns the decision of a Rabat court to imprison the managing editor of Al-Michaal newspaper for one year.
A Rabat misdemeanor court sentenced Driss Chahtan to a year in jail and Al-Michaal journalists Mostafa Hiran and Rashid Mahameed to three months in prison and a 5,000 dirham (US$655) fine each for intentionally publishing false information
in a number of articles about King Mohamed VI's health, local journalists told CPJ.
The paper's lawyers walked out of the hearing on October 8 to protest procedural violations and the court's failure to abide by basic standards for a fair trial, they said.
Immediately after the court ruling, around two dozen policemen stormed the Casablanca-based offices of Al-Michaal and arrested Chahtan, journalists told CPJ. Lahbib Mohamed Haji, one of the newspaper's lawyers told CPJ that the arrest violated
the country's penal code, saying that the public prosecutor had no legal basis to request the imprisonment after the court issued its decision.
Haji said he has appealed the ruling. Neither Hiran nor Mahameed have been detained.
These jail terms are part of a disturbing trend of repression of critical journalism in Morocco, said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. The government has failed to keep its repeated promise to reform restrictive press legislation and
a politicized judiciary. We call on the appeals court to overturn these convictions. Meanwhile our colleague should be released on bail.
Moroccan newspaper Al-Michaal was banned on 13 November after editor in chief Driss Chahtan was sentenced to one year in prison and a 10,000 dirham fine as punishment for his articles about the health of King Mohamed VI.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the closure of a Moroccan independent daily amid an escalating government campaign to silence critical journalists.
On Tuesday, police prevented Taoufik Bouachrine, managing publisher and editor of the daily Akhbar al-Youm, and dozens of staff members from entering the offices of the Casablanca-based newspaper.
The sudden move followed a statement from the Ministry of the Interior accusing the independent daily of blatant disrespect to a member of the royal family for publishing in its September 26-27 weekend edition a cartoon on a strictly
private wedding ceremony organized by the royal family. Prince Moulay Ismail, the cousin of King Mohamed VI, was married in a ceremony that, though private, had generated considerable interest and coverage in local newspapers.
Police detained and interrogated Bouachrine and cartoonist Khaled Kadar for more than 24 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday in Casablanca, lawyers told CPJ. Lawyers told CPJ that the allegations against Akhbar al-Youm are groundless and that the
Ministry of the Interior has no legal authority to shutter a newspaper unilaterally. Article 77 of the Moroccan Press Law goes only so far as to authorize the ministry to ban a single issue of a periodical deemed disrespectful to the royal
We urge King Mohamed VI to order an immediate end to the arbitrary siege of Akhbar al-Youm and to immediately back the right of our colleagues to do their job without police or judicial harassment, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle
East and North Africa program coordinator. The time has come for a regime that constantly pays lip service to democracy to turn the page on abusing the law to settle scores with critical journalists.
Blatant disrespect to a member of the royal family
The cartoon, published September 26-27, 2009 by the daily, is a blatant disrespect to a member of the royal family, said a statement by the Ministry on Monday.
In addition to tendentiously using the national flag, the cartoon undermines a symbol of the Nation by insulting the emblem of the Kingdom, the statement said, adding that the use of the Star of David in the cartoon raises many
questions on the insinuations of the people behind it and suggests flagrant anti-Semitic penchants.
In light of the elements at hand, the Interior Minister has decided, in accordance with the laws in force, to sue and seize the daily, and to take the appropriate measures concerning the paper's equipment and premises, the document said.
In the same vein, Prince Moulay Ismail has decided to take legal action concerning this issue.
A major battle looms between the Kenya Government and broadcasters over new regulations seeking to take back licenses and vet programmes.
By far the most ambitious attempt at shaping broadcasting in Kenya, the new rules basically follow modern trends, with the regulations seeking to determine broadcast content, technology, advertising, ownership and public interest issues.
Until now, programme content has been left to self-regulation. Broadcasting content has basically remained in the realm of codes of ethics observed by the Media Council of Kenya and editorial guidelines constructed by individual media houses.
The point of departure in the draft broadcasting regulations are rules on content that appear to be not only too intrusive but also prescriptive. Offensive language, blasphemy and sexual matters presented explicitly will no longer be a matter of
codes of practice, but will be offences punishable by the regulator.
As Sudan prepares for the first general elections in decades, President Omar al-Beshir lifts censorship on the press.
As of today, censorship is over and journalists have complete freedom, said a presidential decree carried by the official SUNA news agency.
Head of the country's Press Council, Ali Shimo, said the pre-censorship system was called off after editors, journalists' associations and censors signed an ethics code for practicing journalism.
Up to now, a group of government-led sensors screened newspapers every night before hitting the stands to purge them of sensitive articles despite a law guaranteeing freedom of the press .
Under the law, passed in parliament in June, the press were granted freedom but banned from provoking religious or ethnic or racial sedition or calling for war or violence, while respecting and protecting public ethics, religious values
and those found guilty of violating the press law had to pay a fixed penalty set by the courts. But in practice, the law was impractical and the censors continued their job.
The new press law and lifting of censorship will only be applied to the written press and not to television.
The new administration of southern seaport town of Kismayo has publicly punished three boys they said that they have committed crimes which are taboo in Somalia.
Each one of the boys has received lashes of whips on his back in front of the hundred of the inhabitants of Kismayo, at the national park venue which situated in the heart of the town and will serve under sentence for some months said the
judge who passed out the chastisement of the boys speaking to Somaliweyn radio.
The officer added that the boys have been jointly watching pornography films in their cell phones.
Comment: Reality Porn
29th September 2009. From Alan
Hope somebody's filmed it. It would go down a storm on the gay BDSM porn market!
Nigerian immigrants play a large part in the film District 9 – taking the roles of gangsters, prostitutes or witch-doctors. They are depicted eating alien flesh or having sex with the creatures. Many Nigerians are furious.
One blogger, Nicole Stamp, wrote: That's Hollywood's Africa, isn't it. Black Africans shown as degenerate savages who'll have sex with non-humans and are pretty damn eager to eat people. Disgusting.
There was further criticism yesterday from the Nigerian-born British actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim, who appeared in the films Hotel Rwanda and Wolverine . On Facebook, he wrote: If the African continent truly wants to be liberated, we
cannot sit back and allow this depiction of a 'few rotten apples' to be spread across the world. He expressed concern that District 9 would reinforce negative stereotypes of all Africans. The manner in which the Nigerians are
depicted cannot be justified.
Update: Nigerian government demands ban on District 9
Nigeria's government is asking its cinemas to stop showing the science fiction film, District 9 , that it says denigrates the country's image.
Information Minister Dora Akunyili told the BBC's Network Africa programme that she had asked the makers of the film, Sony, for an apology. She says the film portrays Nigerians as cannibals, criminals and prostitutes.
An actor from the film said that it was not just Nigerians who were portrayed as villains. The Malawian actor, Eugene Khumbanyiwa, plays a gang leader with the nickname of Obasanjo, also the surname of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The film is about alien refugees who set up home in a South African shanty town called District Nine. It is a loose allegory about apartheid and recent violence by South Africans against foreigners.
Akunyili said it clearly took aim at Nigerians: We feel very bad about this because the film clearly denigrated Nigeria's image by portraying us as if we are cannibals, we are criminals, she said: The name our former president was
clearly spelt out as the head of the criminal gang and our ladies shown like prostitutes sleeping with extra-terrestrial beings.
The information minister said she had ordered the Nigerian film and video censors' board to ask all cinemas to stop showing the film and to confiscate it. I have also formally written to Sony Pictures Entertainment, the company that produced
this film, demanding an unconditional apology for this unwarranted attack on Nigeria's image, she added.
Journalists, editors and publishers not recognised by the South African press ombudsman and not adhering to its code of conduct face the prospect of being jailed for five years or a fine, or both, if they fail to submit their copies
or material prior to publication or broadcast, exhibition or distribution to the Films and Publications Board (FPB) for approval.
This is according to the newly-signed Films and Publications Amendment Act 3 of 2009.
The aim is to check if the material contains sexual conduct which violates or shows disrespect for the right to human dignity of any person, degrades a person, constitutes incitement to cause harm, advocates propaganda for war. The FPB also wants
to ensure that the material is free from inciting violence or advocating hatred based on any identifiable group characteristic.
The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) says it is disappointed by the signing of bill into law, calling it problematic and adding that it violates section 16(2) of the Constitution. FXI acting executive director Melissa Moore said last week:
“The Amendment Act constitutes a grave intrusion of the right to freedom of expression. To this end we are of the view that certain sections of the Amendment Act fail dismally in giving effect to the right to freedom of expression.
The most intrusive element of the act is that, under the guise of the ‘protection of children's rights' the legislature has introduced a system of pre-publication censorship and self-censorship which offends against the letter and spirit of the
Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
The act also introduces a new offence in SA law, Moore said, requiring that anyone who knows of, suspects or has reason to suspect, that an offence has been or is being committed under the provisions of the Act to furnish the police with a full
report of such knowledge or suspicion, failing which such person shall be guilty of an offence.
South Africa's Department of Home Affairs said it's developing an inter-departmental protocol to shield kids against child porn in time for the country hosting the 2010 World Cup next June. While details are vague, the DHA's Deputy Minster Malusi
Gigaba is advocating an extremely hard-line approach to the issue:
South Africa should explore an outright ban on pornography in the public media as is the practice in countries such as China and India, Gigaba stated in the Department's announcement. He further vowed to approach the South African Law
Reform Commission with a request to investigate and make recommendations on instituting the ban.
The increase of access to technology and mobile internet, with all its benefits, also poses risks such as creation and distribution of child pornography, Gigaba stated: We need to be proactive in protecting children against this heinous
By banning the Jitu Films production Movie entitled Otto -The Bloodbath horror movie the Kenya Film and Censorship Board effectively made it a best seller.
Many people are searching online to purchase the movie that is set to premier at Oxford University next week and later at the Rwanda Film Festival! What is perhaps fascinating is that the foreign market is readily embracing a movie that has been
banned locally for allegedly being too horrific even for an adult & having too much blood scenes, further the movie was said to feature too many dead human characters.
The plot of the movie is about a family torn between selling off their fathers land against the patriarch's wishes. The children of the man's first wife refuse to obey his wish and decide to bury him at the Langata Cemetery in Nairobi so that
they can kick the second wife and her mute son out and enjoy the proceeds. That s when the horror begins....
The Committee to Protect Journalists CPJ calls on Cameroonian authorities to reopen a private radio station shut down over a popular talk show.
About 20 paramilitary police summarily sealed the studios of Sky One Radio, based in the capital, Yaoundé, the station's president, Joseph Angoula Angoula, told CPJ.
It would appear that the government is afraid of hearing the voices of its own citizens, said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes: This is unacceptable censorship. The authorities must lift the suspension on Sky One immediately.
The ruling was linked to a daily call-in program called The Tribunal, which allowed listeners to air grievances and seek assistance, according to local journalists. Sky One received a letter from the Communications Ministry on August 6
ordering the station to drop the program in connection with a July 24 program in which a HIV-positive woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo said her embassy had denied her travel documents to return to her country, the host Duval Lebel
Eballe told CPJ. The ministry subsequently ordered Sky One to fire the presenter and change the time slot of the program after the station raised funds for the woman and attempted to intercede on her behalf with the Congolese Embassy, he said.
Malawi's minister of tourism, wildlife and culture, Anna Kachikho says there is need to censor electronic sources of information such as Digital Satellite Television (DSTV) and the Internet since it is negatively influencing children.
She made the remarks after visiting offices for the country's Censorship Board where she pledged to ensure that a piece of legislation be passed to empower the board to take charge.
[The] Censorship Act does not make provision for the board to act on the surfing of pornographic material on the internet, said acting chief censorship officer Humphrey Mpondaminga.
He bemoaned obsolete laws contained in the Censorship Act of 1968 which he described as very archaic and asked the minister to push for better legislation and allow the board to carry out its mandate properly.
14 countries in the Middle East and North Africa out of 18 countries surveyed filter Internet content using technical means, according to new studies released by the OpenNet Initiative, a partnership among groups at four leading universities:
Toronto, Harvard, Cambridge, and Oxford, funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
These reports offer an updated view of Internet content controls in the region and a point of comparison to an earlier global survey carried out in 2006-2007. The studies show that Internet censorship has continued apace in the Middle East and
Our latest research results on Internet filtering and surveillance in the Middle East and North Africa confirm the growing use of next generation cyberspace controls beyond mere denial of information, said Ron Deibert, ONI Principal
Investigator and Director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto: The media environment of the Middle East and North Africa region is a battle-space where commercially-enhanced blocking, targeted
surveillance, self-censorship, and intimidation compete with enhanced tools of censorship circumvention and mobile activism.
Internet censorship in the region is increasing in both scope and depth, and filtering of political content continues to be the common denominator among filtering regimes there, said Helmi Noman, the OpenNet Initiative's Middle East and
North Africa lead researcher: Governments also continue to disguise their political filtering, while acknowledging blocking of social content, and censors are catching up with increasing amounts of online content, in part by using filtering
software developed by companies in the U.S.
Last week, the Ethiopian government tried to force private Kenyan broadcaster Nation Television (NTV) to drop a four-part exclusive report on separatist rebels in southern Ethiopia. NTV aired the first two parts of Inside Rebel Territory:
Rag-Tag Fighters of the Oromo Liberation Front, which led Ethiopia's ambassador to Kenya to accuse the Nation Media Group of giving a platform to a terrorist organization. The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) is fighting for greater autonomy for
the Oromos, the largest ethnic group in the south of the nation.
Clearly, officials at the Ethiopian Embassy did not want NTV to air this program. We repeatedly explained to them that this is not possible, Linus Kaikai, NTV's managing editor of broadcast news told me today. The Kenyan Foreign Affairs
Ministry was also involved in attempting to get the station to drop the story, he said: No demands have been agreed to, Kaikai added, saying that the final two parts will air this week.
Ethiopia recently enacted draconian anti-terror legislation, which criminalizes any reporting the government deems favorable to groups and causes it labels as terrorist. In other words, reporting the activities or statements of such groups
could be interpreted as glorifying or aiding their causes.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the highly politicized court verdict against six independent journalists in the capital of the Gambia, Banjul.
Judge Emmanuel Fagbenle sentenced the journalists to two years in jail and heavy fines on six counts of sedition and criminal defamation, local journalists told CPJ. Failure to pay the fines will lead to an additional two years in jail.
The six journalists, working for two private newspapers--The Point and Foroyaa--had republished a June 11 press union statement criticizing President Yahya Jammeh's comments regarding the unsolved 2004 murder of Point editor Deyda Hydara.
According to the union, the six will be held at Mile Two Prison in Banjul while the defense files an appeal in the Gambian Court of Appeal.
President Jammeh has managed to nail the coffin shut for press freedom in the Gambia by arresting some of the last remaining independent journalists in the country, said CPJ's Africa program coordinator, Tom Rhodes: CPJ condemns this
politicized judgment against these six Gambian journalists. Their sentencing reflects a partisan judicial system controlled by the president.
The news editor of Zmabia's largest independent newspaper has been arrested and put on trial for distributing obscene images.
Chansa Kabwela, in calling for an end to the nurses' strike that has crippled the healthcare system in Zambia, sent the offending photos to the country's vice-president, its health minister, and various human rights groups.
The images? Two photos of a woman giving birth without medical help. They depict the baby in the breech position, with its shoulders, legs and arms emerging from the woman's vagina, but with the head still inside. The baby suffocated because by
the time the hospital admitted the woman, it was too late for their surgeons to save the child, which died of suffocation.
President Rupiah Banda called the pictures pornographic and demanded a police investigation. Kabwela was soon arrested for distributing obscene material with intent to corrupt public morals, a charge that carries a possible five-year prison term.
Two Moroccan magazines have been banned for publishing an opinion poll of the King in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of his rule.
All issues of Arabic-language weekly magazine Nichane and its French-language sister publication Telquel were seized by the Interior Ministry.
The Interior Ministry ordered the seizure of the issues of Telquel and Nichane following the printing of articles that violate the law, the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
The seized issue of Telquel featured King Mohammed VI on its cover with the words The People Judge Their King emblazoned on his image.
The magazine conducted an opinion poll asking readers what they thought of the last ten years of King Mohammed VI's rule, and the results were overwhelmingly positive.
The poll showed that 91% of Moroccans are satisfied or very satisfied with the king's performance.
An editor of Telquel told French media that authorities told the magazine it was unacceptable in principle” to publish an opinion poll about the king, which is why the issues were seized.
Rights organization Reporters Without Borders said that while there have been significant improvements in press freedom in the past ten years, extreme censorship is still prevalent. In the past ten years, according to the organization,
Moroccan journalists have been sentenced to a total of 25 years in jail and news organizations have been fined a total of 2.8 million dollars.
The fundamental problem is this, a popular blogger Larbi wrote: In Morocco the king governs, he is the head of state, and the chief executive. But at the same time he is a sacred person. So whoever wants to talk about Moroccan politics
finds himself in this dilemma: how do you speak about the actions of a head of state that presides over the destiny of 30 million Moroccans when the law punishes those who speak of, and violate his sacredness?
Tanzania has had a controversial debate over adult content after photos of President Jakaya Kikwete were manipulated to show the president in compromising positions. The photos were published online on a Web site that has since been blocked, with
the owner arrested.
Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority officials have been engaging cyber cafe owners in every town, urging them not to allow unaccompanied children to surf, said Innocent Mungy, Public Relations Manager at TCRA. To address issues of
online content and how to deal with adult material, Mungy said TCRA has published a bill for legislative debate. The bill aims to give the public recourse in cases where embarrassing pictures or content are published.
In Kenya, the Ministry of Information and Communication is amending criminal law that makes pornography illegal. Recently, the police seized hundreds of local porn DVDs.
Kenya is revising Chapter 222 of the laws to protect children from pornography, said Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication. Through broadcast regulations, the ministry is expected to add
specific regulations targeting the protection of children from porn.
On Internet however, the responsibility squarely lies with the parents; we cannot start regulating Internet just because a few parents are not able to control which their content their children have access to, added Ndemo.
Joel Simon, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists has written to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia:
We are writing to express our serious concerns about legislation that would further restrict press freedom in Ethiopia and about an ongoing pattern of criminal prosecutions, administrative restrictions, and Internet
censorship. We are concerned that these measures, which official rhetoric has publicly justified as policies to safeguard the constitutional order , actually criminalize independent political coverage and infringe on press freedom as
guaranteed by the Ethiopian Constitution. We call on you to use your influence to reverse this trend.
On July 7, the Ethiopian House of Peoples' Representatives passed the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation despite concerns raised by legal experts, lawmakers, and the private press about sweeping statutes that restrict fundamental constitutional rights,
including press freedom. Several journalists, who asked that their names be withheld for fear of government reprisals, told CPJ they received phone calls and warnings from officials and government supporters to censor coverage scrutinizing the
The proclamation contains far-reaching statutes giving the executive branch sweeping powers to imprison for as long as 20 years whosoever writes, edits, prints, publishes, publicizes, disseminates statements deemed encouraging,
supporting, or advancing terrorist acts. This statute effectively institutionalizes censorship of reporting the government deems favorable to groups and causes it labels as terrorist . Worse, the law grants the federal police and
national security agency exclusive discretion to carry out warrantless interception of communications, and search and seizure solely on the basis of reasonable belief that a terrorist act is in progress or will be committed. The law
also provides for terrorist suspects to be held for up to four months without charge.
A court in Tunis has condemned a retired professor, Dr Khedija Arfaoui, to eight months in prison for spreading rumors, on the social networking website Facebook, supposedly liable to disrupt public order.
Dr Khedija Arfaoui, a feminist retired professor was accused of spreading a message on Facebook about the rumor of 5 children being abducted from school in Tunisia. Recent rumors that children have been abducted and trafficked in Tunisia have
been circulating for some months and have reached epidemic proportions with many parents concerned that their kids will be kidnapped, despite an official denial by Tunisia's Minister of Interior during a press conference.
A Casablanca court heavily fined three top Moroccan newspapers for publishing critical articles on Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi.
Freedom of the press landed the three local newspapers al-Jarida al-Aoula , al-ahdath al-Maghribia , and al-Massae in hot water after they published articles criticizing Kadhafi, prompting the Libyan leader to sue them for
The court fined the dailies three million dirhams ($374,129), an amount far less than the 90 million dirhams Kadahfi initially filed for when he accused the papers of attacks on the dignity of a head of state.
Five of nine staff members from the three dailies were each fined 120,200 dirhams ($15,000).
The National Union of the Moroccan Press staged a demonstration following the trial outside the Casablanca court as the Moroccan press union strongly condemned the court's verdict, warning that it encouraged press censorship.
In its statement released immediately after the verdict, the union expressed support for the three newspapers, and said heads of state must learn to take criticism from the press and allow for dialogue with the media instead of seeking
using the law to quell freedom of press.
Anouzla, head of al-Jarida al-Aoula vowed to continue his critique of the Libyan regime and said he would appeal the verdict.
The classification of video games in South Africa falls under the control of the Film and Publications Board (FPB).
Under the cheery banner, Striving to make the life of every child better without making the life of every single adult worse, the FPB rates all interactive computer games and assigns them a rating of PG, 13, 16 or 18.
The FPB strives to meet international classification standards, and for the most part their rating system adheres to what most would consider normal guidelines.
Games rated PG contain no references to drugs, no foul language and no nudity, but may contain minimal violence in playful, comic or highly stylised settings . What constitutes a playful depiction of violence is not explained.
Further, games rated 13 are similarly restricted in terms of drug references, foul language and nudity, but may contain sequences of mild violence , provided there is no mutilation or dismemberment of animal or human bodies.
The 16+ classification makes allowances for drug reference — provided they do not glamorise their use — and some nudity, provided it is not tied to incentives within the game. But with regard to violence, the game may include sequences of intense
violence in graphic detail. Mutilation and dismemberment may occur in animated contexts.
On the surface, it would seem the FPB tolerates violence in video games, provided it is not tied to incentives or rewards in the game, for example: killing innocent people for money to buy better weapons.
Sharia: Where Government knows best meets Allah knows best. The lack of separation of religion and state and the lack of meaningful checks and balances, combined with a brutal set of laws and the presumption of divine endorsement
for it all set the stage for a corrupt, capricious and vicious government. And governments like that issue decrees like this.
Islamists controlling southern Somaliia have banned watching DVDs or movies on television and said raids would be conducted to catch offenders, who would then be severely punished.
Watching films is totally banned even indoors, Sheikh Mowlid Ahmed, a security forces commander in the port city of Kismayo said in a statement: People are allowed to use their home televisions only to watch news on such channels such
as Al-Jazeera . Raids will be carried out on homes of people suspected of illegally watching films and if found guilty, they will face punishment .
Residents say Islamist security forces in the town recently started inspecting mobile phones to prevent them from being used for watching movies.
The punishment normally meted out on offenders is flogging.
The music of Sungura musician Hosiah Chipanga has been banned on national radio, Radio Zimbabwe, wrote the newspaper ZimDaily.
When Hosiah Chipanga released the controversial album Hero Shoko , his songs quickly hit the airwaves. But after a little while, and after a surprise song on President Mugabe's birthday exposed top Zanu-PF official's corrupt activities,
the album was blacklisted and pulled off air
His new and 20th album is laden with messages that attack the Zanu-PF regime.
A court in Dakar, capital of Senegal, on June 3, 2009 suspended the circulation of June 2009 edition of L'Essentiel , a monthly current affairs magazine and ordered its seizure over headlines on the cover-page that the court claimed were
an insult to President Abdoulaye Wade.
According to the presiding magistrate the headlines: Freemasonry: The Grand Lodge of France Conquers Senegal , Nine years after change, the state explodes, The Mourides are in control and Touba in suffering, were not only insulting
to President Wade but also likely to disturb public order.
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s correspondent reported that the court said its decision was based on Article 820-1 of the county's rules of civil procedure, which allows for the outright suspension” of any publication that has the
tendency to “disturb public peace.
Sudanese media have suffered multiple blows in recent months as parliament considers a harshly repressive press bill and authorities impose an exceptional level of censorship, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
The press bill, introduced in the Sudanese National Assembly in April, falls far short of international standards for free expression, according to CPJ's analysis.
The bill grants the National Council for the Press and Publications unprecedented authority to grant and revoke publication licenses; impose strict disciplinary measures against journalists; conduct examination of journalists to determine their
suitability for the profession; and confiscate printing equipment. Eight of the council's 21 members would be appointed by the president, according to the bill. The president's office would have sole oversight of the National Council for the
Press and Publications.
According to the bill, newspapers would have to renew licenses annually and journalists must be registered with the council in order to work. Journalists can be fined up to 50,000 new Sudanese pounds (US$21,000) for violating any provision of the
bill, according to Article 37. Article 26 stipulates that an editor-in-chief bears primary legal responsibility for all matters appearing in a newspaper, but it assigns legal responsibility to writers, editors, publishers, printers, and
distributors as well.
In another alarming development, local journalists told CPJ that security agents are imposing censorship at an ever-increasing rate. The 1999 National Security Forces Law grants security forces significant powers over the media.
Around 9 p.m. every day, security officers visit newspapers to determine what they can print and what will be censored, journalists told CPJ. It is totally arbitrary, Murtadha al-Ghali, editor-in-chief of the independent daily Ajras
al-Huriya, told CPJ. [The officer] removes certain articles from our newspaper and the next day other newspapers publish similar articles.
Sudanese parliament agreed to remove the heavy fine imposed on the journalists in a draft law discussed currently by the legislators, the head of Sudanese journalists syndicate said.
Mahi Eddin Titawi, said yesterday they had agreed with a National Assembly subcommittee reviewing the contested press draft law to drop the fine of 50,000 Sudanese pound (21,500 US dollars) that journalists could face for unspecified offences.
Titawi further said the journalists would not have to be registered at the government controlled press council but at the journalists syndicate.
Sudan Monday passed an amended version of a media bill that sparked protests in Khartoum last month, but the new version failed to allay the fears of many Sudanese journalists.
A peace accord, which ended more than 20 years of fighting between the north and south, also promised Sudan's first free elections in 24 years. Analysts and Sudanese opposition politicians have said a new press law is crucial for the February
Journalists said Monday they were pleased legislators had removed a section from earlier drafts that would have allowed a powerful press council to fine journalists or newspapers up to 50,000 Sudanese Pounds ($21,000). In the final version, law
courts decide penalties and can choose how long to suspend newspapers.
But the new press bill leaves room for state interference on the grounds of national security or public order and it remains unclear if censorship will be reduced.
The Nairobi Chronicle reports that a Tanzanian blogger faces jail after publishing manipulated photographic images depicting Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete engaging in lewd sex acts.
According to Habari Leo , a Tanzanian newspaper the country's police are seeking help from Interpol in tracing the owners and publishers of the blog.
Ze utamu (www.zeutamu.com), probably Tanzania's most controversial blog, came to the limelight by publishing a mixture of Tanzanian Diaspora gossip, nude and sex photographs of well known people as well as name-and-shaming articles. While it
attracted many readers, the blog has also attracted criticism.
More than 50 Sudanese journalists protested outside the National Assembly in Omdurman on Tuesday against a draft law of press largely criticized for repressive articles it includes.
The new press bill put the media and the media houses under the control of the Sudanese presidency which appoint 8 of the 21 members of the Press Council. No media house will be established or journalist authorized to exercise this activity
without a licence from the council.
Also the disputed bill allows the council to close newspapers and authorizes the judge to impose 50,000 new Sudanese pound fines for infractions.
Sudanese Journalists Network, which includes hundreds of independent journalists said that it organized the protest against the new draft press law because it limits the freedom of the press and impose restrictions on journalists and
frightens them by an arsenal of sanctions.
The demonstration comes as the Sudanese parliament begun today to discuss the contested draft of the press law. Some 150 legislators from the SPLM and opposition National Democratic Alliance boycotted the discussion to mark their position from
this bill restrictive of press freedom.
Freedom of speech in ubder threat in Madagascar from Andry TGV Rajoelina's High Authority for the Transition (HAT) government.
First, there was the arrest of three demonstrators, most famously, Razily, a young man who was proudly bearing his country's flag when ruthlessly arrested by soldiers.
He is hailed a hero by Malagasy internet users. Malagasy mainstream media seem not to have followed up with his fate. Malagasy social media users, like Solofo Rafeno, on his twitter account and his blog are orchestrating a campaign to demand that
the HAT government free Razily and the other two men who were with him. A petition now circulates on Facebook for those demanding Razily's freedom.
Then, last sunday, Andry TGV Rajoelina's government seized equipment from two radio broadcasting stations, Radio Fahazavana and Radio Mada, which both support the ousted President Marc Ravalomanana. Mydago.com reports the closure of the two
The HAT government, which professed last month that elections were not needed because the people had already spoken through the streets, then proceeded to forbid all public rallies.
Reporters Without Borders hails the conditional release on 8 September of the 10 Radio Fahazavana employees who have been in pre-trial detention since 27 May, even if they still have to face trial on a charge of inciting a revolt, but condemns a
government decision to suspend the broadcasts of another radio station, Radio Mahafaly, until further notice.
We are relieved to learn that the Radio Fahazavana employees are free and have been reunited with their families, Reporters Without Borders said. The formal judicial investigation is finally due to begin this month and we reiterate our
call for a fair trial that is not subject to political pressure.
The press freedom organisation added: We deplore the fact that political tension between the members of the transitional government and the leaders of the opposition continues to impact the media. The suspension of the Radio Mahafaly, an
opposition station, is a flagrant example of this.
The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in the southeastern Congolese city of Likasi to allow two private stations to return to the air.
On March 11, the mayor of the southeastern city of Likasi, Denis Kalondji Ngoy, ordered the closure of Radio Communautaire du Katanga (RCK) and Radiotélévision Likasi 4 (RTL4) in connection with their coverage of a local strike,
according to local press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED).
The orders, which were backed by an official notice from provincial Communications and Interior Minister Dikanga Kazadi, occurred during a tense social crisis in Likasi, with increasing inflation and an ongoing strike by national railway workers,
who were demanding 36 months in back pay, according to local journalists. Local authorities accused the stations of inciting the public to strike and of broadcasting defamatory statements, according to JED.
Authorities in Republic of Congo should immediately lift their ban on private TV station Canal Bénédiction Plus (CB Plus), the Committee to Protect Journalists have said. The ban was enacted in February in response to political
coverage in the lead-up to presidential elections in July.
CB Plus was forced off the air on February 12 shortly after it aired footage of a 1991 national political convention that marked a transition from the one-party rule of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso to a multiparty democracy. Jacques
Banaganzala, the president of the national media censor (CSLC) told CPJ he ordered the station off the air because the footage included violent and abusive statements, including testimonies about the 1977 assassination of former
President Marien Ngouabi.
It's outrageous that a broadcaster should be censored for telling the people of Congo their own history, said CPJ's deputy director, Robert Mahoney> We call on authorities in Brazzaville to immediately let CB Plus return to the air
and allow the media to cover all sides in the lead-up to the July presidential elections.
The Sudanese authorities banned a daily newspaper for two days for their coverage of press conference held by the Secretary General of the Sudan people’s Liberation Movement and articles on the press freedom.
Ajras Al-Hurriya, a pro-SPLM daily newspaper had been banned by the security service on Thursday and Friday for the coverage of a press conference held by Pagan Amum the SPLM secretary general and some editorials written by the editor in chief
and other journalists on the draft of new press law.
In a press release the daily denounced the abusive censorship saying other newspapers were allowed to publish the same coverage of Pagan statements. It also added that security officials remove official’s news, interviews and even the commercial
Tunisian authorities have blocked access to the
Matroudine website dedicated to provide information and support for the five students and activists from the Tunisian General Student Union (UGET) who went on hunger strike to protest their arbitrary exclusion from Tunisian universities and
deprivation of their right to education because of their activism within the UGET.
The five young UGET unionists, namely Ali bouzouzeya, Taoufik Louati, Aymen Jaabiri, Mohamed Boualleg, and Mohamed Soudani, have been on hunger strike since February 11th, 2009. After more than 48 days of hunger strike their health condition has
greatly worsened. However, Tunisian authorities continue not to react.
On the night of March 5th, 2009, Sudanese security forces had carried out a raid on the house of internet activist and lawyer Abdel Hakim Abdel Rahman Nasr only few hours after he expressed his support to the ICC Arrest Warrant for President Omar
al-Bashir on the online International Forum for Nubia of which he was a moderator.
According to the forum administrator, security forces have learned Abdel Hakim's password on March 6th, 2009 and deleted more than three hundred threads posted by the activist and other forum members
Abdel Hakim has been released on March 11th, 2009. In a post published this week on International Forum for Nubia, Abdel Hakim described what he went through during the kidnapping and the interrogation and how he was beaten with gun butts and
truncheons. A translation of Abdel Hakim's post will be published soon on Global Voices.
One of Cameroon's firebrand journalists, Eric Motumu, is currently in pre-trial detention at the judicial police of the North West region.
Reports say Eric Motumu, who doubles as publisher of the Chronicle newspaper, was arrested recently by agents of the judicial police noted for arresting journalist on government's instructions.
Motumu, is being held on libel-related charges following an article titled Scandal at presidency: Philemon Yang ‘pockets' micro-grants, car loan, salary of Oku MP published by his newspaper, early last month.
Touched by the power of the article and probably by the truth it contains, Philemon Yang, assistant secretary general at the presidency, claimed the said article injured his reputation. Consequently, Yang, who is being rumored to be the next
prime mister and head of government of the republic of Cameroon, noted for human rights violation reportedly filed the suit that led to Motumu's arrest and subsequent detention.
Abbass Ould Braham, a Mauritanian online journalist was arrested on 16 March 2009, for an article he published on Taqadoumy.com website.
Abbass's article Deep into Mauritania: A Cross-Section of the new Mauritanian Regime deals with the August 6 coup d'état, the Junta and the Mauritanian political system:
Dozens of Mauritanian journalists tried to stage a sit-in late Monday in front of the UN office in Nouakchott in solidarity with the journalist Abbass Ould Braham when the Mauritanian riot police raided the site, firing tear gas at them and
allegedly beating them with truncheons.
A Facebook group has also been created in support of Abbass.
The two main ISP's in Mauritania have been ordered by the General Persecutor, Seyid Ould Ghaïlani, to block access to what is considered to be the country's second biggest news website, Taqadoumy.
Today, Mauritel, Mauritania's state-owned telecommunications company, followed the block order by banning the website. If confirmed, this is the first case (since 2005 Mauritanian coup d'état) of barring Mauritanian Internet users from
accessing a Mauritanian website.
Writer and journalist Abou Abbass Ould Brahim, the editor of the news website Taqadoumy, was released after being held for three days in the Mauritanian capital. The website was allowed to reopen 24 hours after the Nouakchott prosecutor's office
ordered its closure.
A Nouakchott criminal court had ordered Taqadoumy's closure at the request of prosecutors for posting mendacious and defamatory information. The court accused the site of violating journalistic ethics and undermining national unity by
means of defamation and inciting hatred.
Reporters Without Borders strongly condemns the six-month jail sentence which a Nouakchott court passed yesterday on Hanevy Ould Dehah, the editor of the website Taqadoumy, on a charge of offending public decency. Dehah has been held for
the past two months in Dart Naim prison.
The sole aim of this disproportionate sentence is to restore the reputation of Ibrahima Moctar Sarr, a politician whose financial dealings Dehah examined, Reporters Without Borders said: We hope this verdict is overturned on appeal and
Dehah is soon released.
While finding Dehah guilty on the public decency charge, the court acquitted him on charges of defamation, inciting rebellion and inciting crimes and offences because of the absence of enforceable laws applicable to electronic media offences.
As well as sentencing him to six months in prison, it fined him 30,000 ouguiyas (83 euros) and ordered him to pay another 21,000 ouguiyas (59 euros) in legal costs. He has appealed.
The latest issue of monthly Afrique Magazine (AM) in French was banned in Algeria for violating national values , according to the Secretariat of State for Communication.
Based in Paris, AM has been covered with a folder: Algeria: the twilight of the generals.
Questioned by the press, Zyad Limam, publisher and owner of Africa magazine has confirmed the seizure of the latest edition of his monthly Saturday at the international airport of Algiers: We do not know the reasons for this seizure, but I
think it's because of a report by our colleague Farid Alilat ‘the twilight of the generals' on the relationship between President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and the principal generals of the army since 1992 .
Moroccan blogger and anti-corruption journalist, Hassan Barhoum, who has been arrested since February 25th for exposing a corruption case involving the prosecutor-general for the king of Morocco.
Barhon circulated a petition calling Mohamed Masmouki, the prosecutor-general at Tetouan's court of appeals, a dangerous criminal undermining people's sacred beliefs and the state institutions. The petition, which has been signed by
scores of journalists, bloggers and activists, called for the need to put Mohamed Masmouki on a popular trial.
According to the CPJ, blogger Hassan Barhon was charged under Article 263 of the penal code with defaming a member of the judicial body. If convicted, Hassan Barhon could face up to five years in prison: The Moroccan
authorities must stop criminalizing freedom of expression and punishing critical bloggers and journalists [...] Morocco cannot pursue criminal proceedings for defamation, which is a civil matter, while at the same time claiming that the country
continues to make progress in the field of press freedom.
Botswana's Ministry of Communications Science and Technology has marshalled a team of about twenty reporters to defend the Media Practitioners' Act - by informing and educating the public about the Act.
The government's use of the extensive media under its control as a powerful propaganda tool leaves little doubt as to the real intention of the Media Practitioners Act - to restrict reporting by the private media while bombarding the public with
The Government is coming under increasing pressure locally and internationally to allow Botswana media to report news freely without interference. Many institutions in Botswana and abroad have called on President Khama to initiate a review of
the restrictive media law.
They pointed out that while the Act says it aims at preserving media freedom, upholding standards of professional conduct and promoting ethical standards and discipline, these good intentions are undermined by many sections, which we believe
restrict media work and have the effect of cowing media practitioners into fear and self-censorship.
“We raise particular concern with the setting up, composition and duties of the Media Council and its mandate to monitor journalists, administer accreditation and impose an outside regulatory system on the media. It is troubling that this media
council will in fact be appointed by the Minister without any stated criteria for the participation of media practitioners and organisations, which have been relegated to membership and associate membership roles.
Sudan has been urged to stop censoring a daily newspaper after employees at al-Midan went on strike and the newspaper failed to appear on February 10.
According to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information says that authorities require that the newspapers send a copy of each edition to the Media section of intelligence for pre-publishing approval with an intelligence office for each
newspaper. The list of forbidden topics described as sensitive includes Darfur, Abyei, the Water Dams projects in northern Sudan and any criticism of the president, the armed forces or intelligence.
The latest dispute arose after the observer expunged six internal pages and removed some topics entirely from the prepared proofs, meaning that they were rendered meaningless and useless.
In a statement, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information condemned the pre- and post-publishing censorship on the Sudanese press, considering it as a blatant violation of the right to freedom of expression, opinion and media provided by
the interim constitution. Therefore ANHRI demands the Sudanese government end all forms of unlawful censorship against journalists.
Northern Nigerian filmmaker Hamisu Lamido Iyan-Tama is in prison, a victim of ludicrous censorship laws
In December 2008, a mobile court justice sentenced him to three months in prison and a fine equivalent to $2,500 for allegedly failing to register his company with the Kano State Censorship Board. He was also sentenced to a further year in
prison, with option of fine, for supposedly selling his film Tsintsiya without having it censored by state authorities.
The judge held up Tsintsiya and asked if this was my film. Iyan-Tama said: I said, 'Yes, but it's not for sale in Kano.' The judge said I should answer, 'yes or no, yes or no.'
Tsintsiya is a Nigerian "remake" of Westside Story sponsored by the U.S. embassy, the film won a prize for "Best Film on Social Issues."
I just want to get out and continue with my life, Iyan-Tama said. As of Feb. 13, he was still in prison waiting on his appeal.
Ever since Radio Kalima staffers launched their new station on January 26, Tunisian plainclothes police have done everything they can to suppress the newly launched satellite radio station: besieging the offices for several days, threatening a
managing editor with a knife, and finally breaking into the building and confiscating the equipment.
The radio station was launched by the same team in charge of the online magazine Kalima, which is blocked within the country, and housed in the same building.
On January 30, after days of surrounding the offices, police confiscated equipment such as computers, phones, recorders, and flash discs, according to the Observatory of Press, Publishing, and Creative Freedom in Tunisia.
A who judge was present when police took over the building subsequently launched an investigation against Sihem Bensedrine, editor-in-chief of Kalima, for using a broadcasting frequency without obtaining a legal license, Lotfi Hidouri, a
Kalima contributor, told CPJ. The station broadcasts over the Internet, and via satellite from Italy, whose government has granted permission to use the frequency. Tunisian laws don't address Internet streaming, both staffers said.
Radio Kalima is currently broadcasting from a temporary location,
Ugandans selling pornography risk being sentenced to Prison for 10 years or to pay a fine of sh10m, once the Anti Pornography Bill 2009 is passed.
Ethics and Integrity minister Dr. James Nsaba Buturo said the Bill was ready and would soon be tabled in Parliament.
If the offender is a corporate body or a business, the directors or proprietors or both, will be liable to a fine not exceeding sh100m or imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or both.
Pornography is a big business for both promoters and advocates of immorality, who do not care about the quality of human relationships in the family and nationally, Buturo said: Pornography is a poison to the mind. It fuels sexual
crimes like rape and defilement. It destroys marriages and turns values upside down. Some of the values have stood the test of time.
Some sections of the Bill target to punish producers and participants in the production, traffickers, publishers or broadcasters of pornography. It also empowers the courts of law to order the forfeiture and destruction of all materials and
objects used to commit the offence. The Bill empowers the court to issue a search warrant for any premises or persons, seize the materials and arrest the culprits.
It states that once culprits are convicted, they have no appeal option. Buturo said the Bill caters for Internet service providers, who permit the downloading or uploading of pornography.
Plainclothes police surrounded the offices of a newly launched satellite radio station and detained one of its journalists. Police are continuing their siege of the station.
The journalist, Dhafer Otay of Radio Kalima, said he was held for four hours and then released without charge. Officers prevented him and his colleagues from entering the Tunis offices of their independent satellite radio station, Radio Kalima
. The station was started by the same team in charge of the locally blocked online magazine Kalima .
The Tunisian government should lift its siege of Radio Kalima immediately, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator: Public relations campaigns aimed at presenting the Tunisian government as
tolerant cannot conceal the country's status as one of the Arab world's top enemies of independent journalism.
The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero has destroyed pornographic films, posters and TV games worth millions of naira.
The emir performed the destruction of the films during a ceremony held at the Magistrate Court.
Addressing the gathering, the Emir commended the effort of the state government to fight against indecency, saying that the destruction of the pornographic films and its related items would assist greatly toward the eradication of deviance among
the people , particularly the youth who he described as the leaders of tomorrow.
He assured that Kano Emirate will continue to support and cooperate with the state government to fight every corrupt practices with a view to sanitising the society, and urged the youth in the state to desist from participating in activities that
would tarnish the image of their religion and culture.
article from advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org
Four websites of the Jama’a Al Adl wa Al Ihsan (Justice and Spirituality), Morocco’s largest Islamic movement (officially illegal), have been blocked in Morocco this week.
The main website of the organization, the website of Abdul Salam Yassine, the 76-year-old founder and leader of the movement, the website of his daughter, and spokesperson of the movement, Nadia Yassine, and the website of the movement’s
women have all been blocked for visitors in Morocco.
Botswana has hurriedly passed a controversial media law that journalists fear will restrict their work, say the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).
The Media Practitioners Act was passed last year, but parliamentarians had asked for amendments and had expected to discuss them at parliamentary committees for fine-tuning this year.
Instead, the government published the act in the official gazette over the holidays, making it law.
Under the act, journalists are required to get the consent of a new Media Council before they can work. The council is a government-appointed body that has the power to impose fines and jail time on journalists it determines have violated
standards - including failing to register.
MISA says the act amounts to direct, political interference in the media - more so as Botswana has a general election this year - and will lead to self-censorship by media fearing retributive measures by the council.
According to news reports, the law as it appeared in the official gazette included a passage saying it was designed, among other things, to monitor the activities of the media and to create a body to receive any complaints directed
against media practitioners.
Following a directive by the Kano State government, the state censorship board has banned the sale of an ethnic Hausa film, titled On Jos Crisis, circulating in the state on the recent religious crisis in Plateau State.
The Director-General of the Kano State Film Censorship Board, Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim explained that the state government had decided to take the decision claiming that the film may create tension and degenerate into crisis in the state.
He said: the contents of the film are false and capable of creating tension in the state.
Meanwhile, the mobile court on regulating of film activities in the state has passed various sentences on seven individuals for violating film regulations.
Two months imprisonment and a fine were passed for 2 men downloading a banned Hausa song called Mamar in a film named A loko . Others were also sentenced for operating viewing centres near a mosque where they used to admit underage
children into the centres. They were further sentenced to two months with an option of fine each.
Kenya's President Kibaki has signed into law the controversial Communications (Amendment) Bill 2008, which the media and human rights groups say is draconian and retrogressive.
The Editors Guild immediately denounced the action, while the Media Owners Association was set to hold a crisis meeting last night.
This is retrogressive. He has looked for an excuse to clamp on democracy. The President has completely evaded the issues we have raised as the media fraternity, said Macharia Gaitho, chairman of the Editors Guild.
The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) expressed shock and disappointment. MCK chairman Wachira Waruru said the council will not relent in its fight for press freedom and independence.
The President told the media to recognise that freedom comes with responsibility: While press freedom is a cardinal pillar of democracy [...BUT...] this is a right that carries with it special duties and responsibilities. Press
freedom must therefore be counterbalanced with other freedoms and must at all times take into account the overriding interest and the safety of Kenyans .
Washington has expressed deep reservations about the law, saying it gives the east African country's information minister undue influence and that it was understandable Kenyans had demonstrated against the bill.
The amended media law provides for a new communications commission with powers to regulate broadcasting content and impose tougher fines or jail terms for press offences.
Campaigners had also called for a measure allowing authorities to shut down media outlets during a state of emergency to be revised. The article, first made into law in 1998, was not included in the amendment and remains in force.
A national day of protest against censorship in Tunisia, staged on December 25th, has prompted criticism from some bloggers who feel the effort is misplaced.
Even though he participated, blogger Anis considered Action Blank Post 2008 – in which writers published a blank blog entry to signify censorship – a waste of time.
Fellow blogger Saloua derided the idea, saying that Tunisians should instead increase their writing on that day; otherwise we shall be deemed as practicing internal censorship, especially as we are exposed to censorship every day.
Since 2006, bloggers in Tunisia have used December 25th to raise awareness of the banning and manipulation of online writing. An estimated 160 bloggers participated in this year's demonstration.
Numerous bloggers complained in 2008 of intrusions and blockages of websites by the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI). Many Tunisians also accuse ATI of supporting bans on a number of popular websites. It was this issue that prompted journalist Ziad
El Heni to file a lawsuit against the agency, accusing it of blocking the social networking website Facebook before it was re-opened last August based on an order from the President. El Heni lost the case in a lower court, and is preparing
himself for an appeal.
The Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has told the country's Christian leaders that the convicted British couple, David Fulton (and his wife, Fiona, tarnished the image of the country and personally attacked him by saying a lot of untruths about his
The Gambian leader said the couple went to the extent of writing to inform the Bishop of England that the Gambian government condoned the practice of Sharia law.
Jammeh said the couple alleged that they were attacked by Muslim groups and that they managed to escape.
In this country, as far I am the President and head of state, we will continue to be tolerant, accept all criticisms. We believe that only one God created all of us and if we are all created by one God we are equal [ ...BUT... We
lock up anyone who criticises the president!!!]
Jammeh stated further that the couple wrote that I am moving fast on this as we have just managed to thwart an attempt at bringing Sharia law into The Gambia and the trade off was that 20 unregistered churches were closed down.