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Courts region-wide push back against violations of freedom of expression

The Government of Kenya argued that a communication-surveillance system on all mobile networks was needed to monitor and identify illegal mobile devices. The High Court found that the system was ‘a threat to the subscribers’ privacy’, and that there were less restrictive measures that could be used to identify illicit devices.[1]

On 21 July, the East African Court of Justice ordered the Tanzanian government to lift its 2016 ban on the Kiswahili tabloid, Mseto, which constituted a violation of freedom of expression.[2]

In preparation for the 2019 South African general elections, the Constitutional Court of South Africa upheld an earlier Cape Town High Court ruling, ordering parliament to amend certain parts of the Promotion of Access to Information Act to provide voters with information about who funds political parties.[3] The Constitutional Court has also ruled against the Regulation of Gatherings Act, which criminalises the right to protest without prior notice.[4]

The Zimbabwe constitutional court held that a provision in the Public Order and Security Act, which allowed police officers to issue blanket bans on future demonstrations in specific geographical areas for up to one month, was an unjustifiable limitation on the right to demonstrate and present petitions.[5]

In September, a federal High Court in Nigeria awarded nearly $30,000 (USD) in damages to journalist Jones Abiri for his two-year detention without trial, calling it an ‘outright conviction’ and dismissing the government’s national security arguments as baseless.[6]



[1] Global Freedom of Expression at Columbia University, Okoiti v. Communications Authority of Kenya, 19 April 2018, available at

[2] Zephania Ubwani, ‘EAC court orders Tanzania to annul ban on Mseto newspaper’, The Citizen, 22 January 2018, available at–Mseto–newspaper/1840340-4625998-3yxf9l/index.html

[3] Claudi Mailovich, ´Constitutional Court rules party funders must be made public´, Business Day, 21 June 2018, available at

[4] Global Freedom of Expression at Columbia University, Mlungwana v. The State, 19 November 2018, available at

[5] Global Freedom of Expression at Columbia University, DARE v. Saunyama N.O., 18 October 2018, available at

[6] IFEX, Journalist Jones Abiri Acquitted, Awarded Damages, 14 September 2018, available at