PEN SA Africa Pulse #10
24 Mar 2017
PEN SA Africa Pulse is a weekly round-up of news concerning cases of freedom of expression and the freedom of the press in Africa.
John Vlismas, a South African comedian, says that freedom of speech is a big issue
Freedom of speech is under threat all around the world. In South Africa, comedians like John Vlismas are beginning to feel the pinch. The Hate Speech Bill, proposed by the government, is a threat to him and to comedians in general because of their use satire. “I am entirely against the idea of hate speech, but the vague wording of the bill opens the door for abuse by powerful people”, Vlismas says.
Report calls Kenya to account on surveillance, human rights abuses
A new report by Privacy International, a British-based organsisation, details the role of state-sponsored surveillance in Kenya, with information being gathered by authorities outside of the procedures required by Kenyan law. With the Kenyan Communications Authority making threats that the government will be forced to shut the internet down should hate speech and the incitement of violence “get out of hand” during the election period in August, this is a damning report.
A journalist probing use of excessive force by Kenyan police was arrested
Isaiah Gwengi, a Standard Media Group journalist based in Kenya, was arrested in Usenge Town, Siaya County. This follows Gwengi’s investigation into the police using excessive force. Gwengi reports that he and an activist he was interviewing were beaten by the police before being taken into custody.
Facebook tries to battle against fake news
Facebook has battled fake news surfacing in its News Feed since it became a news-sharing platform, but last year’s US election brought the issue to the fore. Facebook is working with third parties to put fact-checkers in place that will help identify fake news and prevent it from being seen in the News Feed.