Lesotho Constitutional Court applauded for declaring criminal defamation unconstitutional

On 21 May the Lesotho High Court, sitting as the Constitutional Court, declared criminal defamation as unconstitutional. The decision has been lauded across the globe by advocates campaigning against criminal defamation, insult, false news and sedition laws across the African continent. Kicking off on home ground, MISA Lesotho applauded the landmark judgement for its "contribution to an enabling environment for media operations." “We commend the Lesotho Constitutional Court bench for its brave decision, which makes a significant contribution to freedom of expression jurisprudence in the region”, said Anneke Meerkotter, litigation director of the…Read more

Acquittal of “Fiji Times” sedition case hailed as victory for press freedom in Oceania

The Fiji Times, its three executives, and an opinion columnist were cleared of the sedition charges filed by the Fiji government after a High Court judge concurred with the 'not guilty' ruling of the court's three assessors. On April 27, 2016, weekly indigenous-language newspaper Nai Lalakai published a letter by Josaia Waqabaca which tackled the need for a national reconciliation between the country's indigenous population and Muslim minority groups. Nai Lalakai is part of Fiji Times Ltd. Two months later, charges of inciting communal hatred were filed by the Fiji government against Waqabaca,…Read more

Kenya’s journalists can now get ten years in prison for defamation

Online defamation and fake news are punishable by long jail terms under Kenya’s new Computer and Cybercrimes Act, which President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law on 16 May. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns its disproportionate penalties as a threat to press freedom. If journalists are convicted of online defamation under the new law, they could be sentenced to up to ten years in prison and fined the equivalent of 42,000 euros, while the intentional publication of false information that “constitutes hate speech” or “negatively affect reputations of others” is punishable by up to…Read more

UK Society of Editors welcomes defeat of Lords data protection amendments

The  UK Society has Editors has welcomed the defeat in the House of Commons of ‘perverse’ amendments to the Data Protection Bill. The clauses, 168 and 169, would have seen publishers forced to pay both sides costs of legal actions brought against them in data protection cases regardless or not of whether they won an action in court. The amendments, previously added to the Data Protection Bill in the House of Lords, were removed during the Committee stage of the Bill’s passing in the House of Commons yesterday. Ian Murray, Executive Director of…Read more

Quebec court orders Radio-Canada reporter to reveal her sources

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned a Quebec Superior Court ruling that ordered a journalist to reveal her sources. The court ruled yesterday that Marie-Maude Denis, an investigative journalist for the French-language public broadcaster Radio-Canada, must reveal her sources in an ongoing court case in which two politicians from the ruling Liberal Party are charged with corruption, according to press reports. The ruling comes a few months after the Canadian parliament unanimously passed a shield law that allows journalists to protect their sources. In his March 22 ruling, Justice Jean-François Émond argued that…Read more

Bangladesh drafts draconian Digital Security Act

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum (BMSF) express serious concerns over the provisions curtailing freedom of expression in the draft of the Digital Security Act 2018. The IFJ demands that the Bangladesh government revise the draft act in accordance with international standards. Bangladesh's Council of Ministers met on January 29, 2018 and approved the draft of Digital Security Act 2018, designed to combat 'growing cybercrimes that are affecting many public and private organisations'. The draft will be now presented to the Jatiya Sangsad - the unicameral parliament…Read more

“Red Pepper” staff arrested in Uganda

UPDATE: On 27 November 2017, the Buganda Road Court charged the Red Pepper editors and directors with seven counts including libel and offensive communication (HRNJ-Uganda). Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of eight senior employees of the Kampala-based Red Pepper tabloid, arrested on 21 November, and for the reopening of the newspaper, which was closed the same day. The eight employees arrested during an anti-terrorist police raid on Red Pepper'sheadquarters were directors Patrick Mugumya, Arinaitwe Rugyendo, James Mujuni and Johnson Musinguzi Byarabaha, financial manager Richard Tusiime and editors Ben Byarabaha,…Read more

Three Cameroonian journalists charged with criminal defamation

The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Cameroonian authorities to immediately halt the prosecution of three journalists after a judge on October 9 changed the charges against them mid-trial. Authorities on October 28, 2014, originally charged the journalists with "non-denunciation" for failing to disclose information and sources to the state that could harm national security under Article 107 of Cameroon's Criminal Code, according to CPJ research. During the October 9 military court hearing, the trial judge charged Félix Cyriaque Ebolé Bola, the sub-editor of the daily Mutations; Baba Wamé, a journalist and…Read more

Pakistani journalist faces terrorism and defamation charges for article critical of regional government

Authorities in Pakistan should drop charges against journalist Shabbir Siham, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan's northern Gilgit-Baltistan region summoned Siham for a hearing on October 7 on accusations of fabrication and extorting a regional minister in violation of Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Act, according to news reports and to Saeed Ahmed, the manager of the Islamabad-based Journalist Safety Hub, which provides support and training to at-risk journalists. He also faces charges of defamation under the Pakistan Penal Code, the reports said. According to the news site Dawn, Gilgit-Baltistan…Read more

“Daily Post” publishers ordered to pay US$180,000 in defamation suit

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) An Accra High Court has ordered the publishers of the Daily Post newspaper and its editor, Michael Dokosi, to pay an amount of GHC 800,000 (US$180,000) to a former Minister of State. The verdict follows an action for defamation brought by Hackman Owusu Agyemang, who is currently the Board Chairman of Ghana Cocoa Board, against the newspaper and one Mahama Haruna, an activist of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP). Michael Dokosi was found guilty on July 25, 2017 of defaming the former minister and ordered to…Read more
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