Kenya’s High Court declares criminal defamation unconstitutional

ARTICLE 19 welcomes the decision today by Kenya's High Court declaring Section 194 of the Penal Code, which creates the offence of criminal defamation, unconstitutional. ARTICLE 19, alongside Jaqueline Okuta and Jackson Njeru, petitioned the High Court in Nairobi that the provision was a disproportionate and unjustifiable limitation of freedom of expression. Jaqueline and Jackson had been charged under the section for publishing posts about a prominent Kenyan lawyer on a consumer protection Facebook page called 'Buyer Beware'. Jackson is an administrator of the page. Justice JM Mativo declared that Section 194 of…Read more

War of words with Nigerian army lands journalists in jail

The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria has described the invasion of the premises of Premium Times in Abuja and the subsequent arrest of its Publisher, Dapo Olorunyomi and the judiciary correspondent, Evelyn Okakwu, by armed police men on the night of January 19, 2017, as an unacceptable assault on freedom of the press. The director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, said in a statement today (January 20, 2017), that the attack on Premium Times – as well as the harassment of other journalists in recent times – are completely antithetical to democratic values and norms at the…Read more

Gambia orders three radio stations to cease broadcasting

The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Gambian authorities to allow three independent radio stations to resume full broadcasting. Taranga FM, Hilltop Radio, and Afri Radio stopped broadcasting on January 1 on the orders of national security agents, who did not give any explanation for the measure, according to news reports. The closures come amid a political crisis in Gambia after President Yahya Jammeh refused to admit defeat in elections last month. Authorities may have targeted at least one of the stations after it announced details of President-elect Adama Barrow's inauguration, planned…Read more

India court urged to let journalists cover proceedings

International Press Institute (IPI) Executive Director Barbara Trionfi this week sent a letter to the chief justice of the High Court of Kerala, India expressing concern over continued restrictions on journalists' right to cover court proceedings. In the letter, which was also directed to the chief minister of Kerala's government, Trionfi noted that journalists have been denied access to courts in the southern Indian state for months and must rely on information provided by public relations officers. "This, however, is not a substitute for independent reporting," she wrote. "A free and independent judiciary…Read more

Police raid newspaper after critical documentary airs in Maldives

Authorities in the Maldives should cease harassing the Maldives Independent, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Police raided the daily newspaper's office hours after the Qatari broadcaster Al-Jazeera aired a documentary produced by the paper's former editor alleging high-level corruption in the Maldives. Six police officers arrived at the independent, English-language daily's office in the capital Male the afternoon of September 7 with a warrant authorizing them to search the premises on suspicion that the newspaper and its employees had participated in an alleged conspiracy "to overthrow the elected government, getting external help to…Read more

Journalist detained over criminal defamation complaint in Bangladesh

Bangladeshi journalist Siddiqur Rahman Khan has been detained since September 1 after a criminal defamation complaint was filed against him under Article 57 of the 2006 Information and Communication Technology Act, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists called today for Khan's immediate release and an end to the use of criminal charges to harass and stifle online media in Bangladesh. Khan, the editor-in-chief of news portal Dainikshiksha, was detained by cybercrime unit police in the Shikkha Bhaban district of Dhaka, the capital, according to reports. Police spokesman Masudur Rahman told reporters that Khan…Read more

New Maldives criminal defamation law threatens press freedom

Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom should veto a criminal defamation law the parliament passed yesterday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The legislation threatens to stifle criticism and investigative reporting. According to press reports, the government had promised to put a draft of the law before a multiparty committee for amendments before putting it to a vote. But lawmakers yesterday approved the legislation in a 47-31 vote and referred it to Yameen for ratification. Under the law, individuals convicted of defamation face a fine of up to 2 million rufiya (US$130,000), and…Read more

Maldives government proposes law to criminalise defamation

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) in strongly criticising the proposed 'Defamation and Freedom of Expression Act' in the Maldives. The IFJ demands immediate withdrawal of the bill and urges the Maldivian government to review it with all stakeholders, including the media and journalists, to ensure it meets international standards. On March 22, 2016, the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives Parliamentary Group leader MP Ahmed Nihan presented the defamation and freedom of expression bill to the Maldives parliament. The draft law prescribes hefty fines of…Read more

Increase in cases of Internet censorship is cause for concern in Malaysia

The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) is greatly alarmed that certain Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have restricted access to online news outlet The Malaysian Insider since today. The outlet is the second news provider to be blocked this year following regional news site Asia Sentinel in January. This is clearly an assault on media freedom, freedom of information and Malaysia's promise for a free Internet. In January the government also blocked access to blog hosting site, Medium, as reported by local media. This is apparently due to one article published by Sarawak Report, although Medium's lawyers have been reported as saying the government…Read more

BBC correspondent arrested, interrogated for filming hospital in Uganda

Human Rights Network for Journalists - Uganda On 6 February 2016, Catherine Byaruhanga – a BBC news correspondent in Uganda – was arrested by the police in the Abim district for allegedly filming Abim hospital without permission from the district security agents, and wanting to report "bad news all the time with bad intentions." She was arrested along with her cameraman – Kelvin Brown – and Sam Lawino, a news correspondent for NTV, based in the Gulu district. The trio was interrogated and detained for about four hours at the Abim central police…Read more
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