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Politicians smear and attack journalists – with deadly results

One of Africa’s most famous journalists, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, released an investigative documentary on corruption in Ghanaian football that unleashed a wave of violence and hostility – including from top politicians.

In June, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong – a member of parliament who is named in the documentary – called Anas ‘a blackmailer, an extortionist’, and said he should be hanged, as well as vowing to stop his work. The MP called on the Inspector General of Police to withdraw the security provided at the journalist’s home.[1] Agyapong also circulated photos of Anas’s colleague, Ahmed Hussein-Suale, and called for retribution. A masked gunman on a motorcycle shot and killed Hussein-Suale in Accra in January 2019.[2]

Anas maintains total anonymity, masking his face whenever he appears in public. But gunmen tried to enter the home of Saddick Adams – another journalist who had worked on the documentary – and Anas has described threats as a ‘daily routine’.[3]

On 20 June, Guinea’s (3rd quartile) Minister of Justice, Cheick Sako, had a journalist detained for allegedly defaming him in an article published on Nouvellesguinee.com – despite Guinea’s Press Law making it illegal to detain journalists for press offences.[4]

Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, criticised media coverage of the country’s budget and debt in a televised speech in June, calling the Daily Monitor newspaper ‘evil’ and the Red Pepper tabloid ‘stupid’. He also warned he would ‘do something’ if the Daily Monitor‘s ‘debt talk’ did not stop.[5] In the same month, Security Minister, General Elly Tumwine, accused the media of ‘contributing to terrorism’. Media workers in Uganda were routinely subject to attacks, both by public mob and security forces, over the course of 2018, as well as arbitrary arrest – particularly when covering protest.[6]

 

 

[1] Media Foundation for West Africa, Threats: The Creeping Danger to Press Freedom, Freedom of Opinion in Ghana, 1 June 2018, available at http://www.mfwa.org/threats-the-creeping-danger-to-press-freedom-freedom-of-opinion-in-ghana/

[2] BBC News, ‘Ahmed Hussein-Suale: Ghana journalist shot dead’, 17 January 2019, available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-46902748

[3] Reporters without Borders, Death Threats Against Well-Known Ghanaian Investigative Journalist, 6 June 2018, available at https://rsf.org/en/news/death-threats-against-well-known-ghanaian-investigative-journalist

[4] Media Foundation for West Africa, Minister of Justice Orders Detention of Journalist, 26 June 2018, available at http://www.mfwa.org/country-highlights/minister-of-justice-orders-detention-of-journalist/

[5] Yudaya Nangonzi, ‘Bail to suspected killers must stop, Museveni tells courts’, The Observer, 14 June 2018, available at http://observer.ug/news/headlines/57942-bail-to-suspected-killers-must-stop-museveni-tells-courts.html

[6] Human Rights Network for Journalists – Uganda, Three Journalists Arrested as They Cover Mobile Money Tax Protest, 13 July 2018, available at https://hrnjuganda.org/?p=4539

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