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Freedom of Expression in Eastern Africa: Newsletter

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ARTICLE 19

24 Jan 2013

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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.

Month watch:

This month saw more journalists under risk in Somalia and one columnist killed in South Sudan. 

SOMALIA

08 Dec 2012: Journalist threatened

Mohamed Abdulkarim Moallim, a journalist with the London-based Somali TV company, Universal TV, was reportedly threatened by Mohamud Ahmed Behani, the Belethawa District Commissioner. Abdulkarim had written a story criticising a telecommunications company for importing tonnes of cheap sugar into the town, causing small-scale traders to suffer losses.

According to ARTICLE 19’s partners in Somalia, the telecommunications company allegedly complained to Behani, who reportedly ordered the journalist to apologise and refute the news story within 24 hours. Abdulkarim refused to take the story back and was ordered to gain the approval of the local administration before filing any future news from the region.

11 Dec 2012: Journalist goes into hiding

Mohamed Abdi Gulled, who runs "Yool" (meaning ‘target’), a weekly newspaper in Somaliland, went into hiding after allegedly receiving threats from the Minister of Internal Security. Abdi had covered the Somaliland elections in his newspaper and had made some predictions regarding the outcome. The Minister, said these calculations would cause "instability". According to ARTICLE 19’s partners in Somaliland, Abdi fled when he learnt police officers were coming to arrest him. The newspaper stopped being published after the incident.

13 Dec 2012: Editor arrested over human rights report

Mohamud Abdi Jama (popularly known as Huuto), the editor-in-chief of Waaheen, a newspaper in Somaliland, was arrested. He was accused of reporting unsubstantiated statements made at a press conference held by human rights defenders. Waaheen had quoted a report by the human rights defenders, alleging that a son in-law of the Somaliland President was illegally collecting money from the state-run Somaliland Television. Abdi was ordered to provide evidence of these allegations,  taken from the report released by the human rights defenders. 

UGANDA

07 Dec 2012: Court dismisses criminal libel case

A criminal libel case against two Daily Monitor journalists, Henry Ochieng and Angelo Izama was dismissed by Makindye Chief Magistrates’ Court. The two had been accused of defaming Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni but were cleared by Grade One Magistrate, Flavia Nabakooza, for want of prosecution.  However, she advised the State to reinstate the matter once the Supreme Court makes a ruling on the legality of the offence of criminal libel.

The two were accused of publishing a defamatory article titled "Will the people's power defeat President Museveni in the poll?” on 20 December 2009. The article compared the Ugandan government to that of the Philippines under former leader, Ferdinand Marcos. The column discussed the risk of political violence ahead of the 2011 general elections, in which Museveni was seeking a fourth term.

TANZANIA

05 Dec 2012: Police officer shoots and injures journalist

Journalist Shabaan Matutu was injured by a police officer at his home in Mbuyuni, 20 km north of Dar es Salaam. Matutu, who works with the leading Kiswahili daily, Tanzania Daima, was initially rushed to Mwananyamala hospital. He was later transferred to Muhimbili National Hospital, where he was operated to remove a bullet from his left shoulder.

SOUTH SUDAN

06 Dec 2012: Opinion writer gunned down outside his house

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 the Sudan Tribune and Destiny newspapers and for the Gurtong website. South Sudan’s police have pledged to carry out a thorough and effective investigation into the shooting.