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Newsletter: Freedom of Expression in Eastern Africa, 11 Feb 2013

This monthly newsletter provides a snapshot of the status of Freedom of Expression in Eastern Africa. It was compiled by ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa with the assistance of its partners in the respective countries. Funding support has been provided by European Union (EU), however the content of the newsletter does not reflect the opinion of the EU.

10 JAN 2013: Police detain journalist 

Abdulasis Abdinuur Ibrahim (alias Abdiasis Koronto) a correspondent for Radio Ergo,  Dalsan Radio and Daily Telegraph was detained by police for interviewing a woman who said that she was raped by members of the security forces. However, the said interview has not been published on any media outlet. His case is scheduled to begin on 5 February.

23 JAN 2013: Militia group gags Somali Journalists in Kismayo

Abdinasir Seraar, a lieutenant of Raskamboni militias allegedly summoned all journalists in Kismayo to the militias' compound and warned then not to report anything without the consent and knowledge of the group. Abdinasir said any journalist who fails to follow this order would be punished. During the meeting, 7 journalists were reportedly singled out and given a last warning. The Ras Kamboni militia is led by Ahmed Mohamed Madobe and controls the strategic port city of Kismayo, the provincial capital of Lower Juba in southern Somalia. It began collaborating with Somali government and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in October 2011 after the Al-Shabaab was defeated and ran out of several key towns in Lower Juba.

09 JAN 2013: Court rejects journalist’s appeal 

Ethiopia’ Court of Cassation which is the last resort for legal appeals in Ethiopia rejected Reeyot Alemu’s appeal and ordered that she serves her term. Alemu was a regular contributor to the weekly Feteh magazine was sentenced 14 years in prison and fined $1,500 on 19 January 2012 after being found guilty of planning and conspiring a terrorist act; possessing property for terrorist acts and participating in the promotion or communication of a terrorist act. The charges are believed to have been politically motivated because of her criticism of the government. The Court of Appeal however acquitted Alemu of the first two charges and reduced her sentence on the third charge to 5 years which was upheld by the Court of Cassation.

15 JAN 2013: Journalist detained without charge

Solomon Kebede, the Managing Editor of Ye’Muslimoch Guday (Muslim Affairs) was arrested and detained without charge Makelawi prison in Ethiopia. According to ARTICLE 19 partners, Kebede has not managed to get legal representation and his condition in prison is unknown.  He is still being held in solitary confinement.

10 JAN 2013: Regulatory body orders suspension of Radio Talk-Show host

James Kasiriivu who hosts the weekly talk-show n ews hour  in Endigito FM radio based in Western Uganda was suspended for allegedly hosting critical politicians. According to ARTICLE 19 partners in Kampala, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) wrote to the radio station ordering for the journalist’s suspension. Apart from News hour, Kasirivu also hosted W orld Express, which highlighted major global news and events. Endigito FM broadcasts mainly in local languages, covering Western Uganda.

26 JAN 2013: Police storm radio station and mistakenly arrest a news anchor

Police stormed Radio Simba and arrested James Tenywa a news anchor whom they mistook for Muwanga Kivumbi, the Butambala Member of Parliament. Kivumbi who was being hosted on a Saturday talk show ‘Ggasibagane ne banamawulire’, managed to walk away as the police did not know his identity. Tenywa was released before they reached Kira Road police station when police realized that they had the wrong person.

30 JAN 2013: Parliament bans journalists over stories about the Speaker

Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga suspended two journalists from Observer newspaper, David Tash Lumu and Sulaiman Kakaire, from covering parliamentary proceedings. The two were singled out for writing two stories which the speaker claimed were false, and demanded their retraction. She complained that the two articles - ‘How Kadaga, Oulanyah fought over petition’ and ‘House recall petitioners strike deal with Kadaga’ - were damaging to the office of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker. The Observer defended the stories and described the suspension as unfortunate.

08 JAN 2013: Journalist jailed for 3 years

Hassan Ruvakuki was sentenced to 3 years in Prison after appealing an earlier conviction of life sentence. In June 2012, the correspondent for RFI’s Swahili language had been charged and sentenced for “acts of terrorism” after he had interviewed leaders of a rebel group on the eastern Cankuzo province of Tanzania. The Court of Appeal in Gitega however found Ruvakuki guilty of "participating in an association formed for the purpose of attacking people and property".

09 JAN 2013: columnist killed 

Diing Chan Awuol a leading columnist and critic of South Sudan’s government, was gunned down outside his home in Juba. Diing, an advocate of peace between Sudan and South Sudan wrote frequent columns for  Sudan Tribune and  Gurtong  websites as well as  Destiny  newspaper under the pen-name of Isaias Abraham. South Sudanese police pledged to carry out an investigation into his death.

24 JAN 2013: Newspaper seized be security forces

Sudan Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) allegedly seized fourteen thousand copies of the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Sudani . No reason was given for the action.

09 JAN 2013: Journalists chased out of burial

Journalists from Radio Africa Group, Standard Group, Media Max and Royal Media Services were forced out of Nduru village in Tana Delta  district where they had gone to cover the burial of people who had died during skirmishes in that area. The village headman said he was unhappy with the presence of the journalists and ordered them out of the village claiming the media had not been reporting their issues. The journalists quickly left as angry youth armed with spears, bows and arrows tried to surrounded them.

12 JAN 2013: journalist ordered out of meeting

Six journalists from various media houses escaped death narrowly after Orma youths at Odha village in Tana Delta district attempted to attack them during a peace meeting they had gone to cover. The journalists had been invited by Muslim for Human Rights organization which had organized the meeting but the participants chased them away claiming that some media houses had been favouring one side in the conflict.

20 JAN 2013: NTV Journalists attacked by security officers in Kibera slums

Dennis Okeyo ( Nation  photographer) and John Otanga ( NTV  cameraman) were attacked at Karanja area in Kibera slums, Nairobi as they covered demonstrations by youths. The officers allegedly confiscated their cameras’ memory cards and other valuables despite the journalists identifying themselves. Both journalists received treatment at Coptic Hospital. Police promised to investigate the attack.

24 JAN 2013: Kitale journalist threatened

Milcah Kimani of Milele FM reported having received a threatening text message from an anonymous person due to a story that had been broadcast on her radio station. She reported the matter to Kitale police station but no action had been taken to apprehend the suspect

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