PEN SA Africa Pulse #4
10 Feb 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.
PEN SA makes an urgent call on Parliament not to restrict media coverage
Leading up to the State of the Nation Address, there were numerous reports that Parliament had drafted measures to restrict media movement within Parliament. PEN SA made an urgent call on Parliament not to restrict media coverage. The letter was sent to Mr Gengezi Mgidlana, Secretary to Parliament.
PEN South Africa
Parliamentary journalists ‘very alarmed’ over SONA security
On 9 February 2017, President Jacob Zuma delivered his annual State Of the Nation Address. The Parliamentary Press Gallery Association (PGA) expressed its concerns about the security measures. The PGA Chairperson Joylene van Wyk said that “We are very alarmed about the ‘media squares’ that Parliament wants to initiate on SONA day. Journalists who want to move between two ‘media squares’ will need a police escort on the day.”
News24, Daily Maverick, Times Live, Politicsweb
Kenyan journalists breathe a sigh of relief after a court threw out criminal libel law
Journalists in Kenya can breathe a sigh of relief after High Court Judge John Mativo found that Section 194 of the Penal Code was archaic as it prescribed heavy criminal sanctions for the civil offences of libel and defamation, while suppressing freedom of expression. Justice Mativo ruled that if anyone is offended by another individual’s words or gestures, they are free to seek justice by way of damages in the civil court.
Algerian blogger faces 25 years over interview with Israeli official
Merzoug Touati, an Algerian blogger, was arrested on 18 January 2017 and had his computer and camera confiscated. The Algerian authorities have charged Merzoug with “exchanging intelligence with a foreign power” over a video interview he conducted with a spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The video was posted on YouTube.
Open letter to Cameroonian government on internet connectivity in Anglophone regions
On January 22 2017, civil society organizations from around the world sent an open letter to the President of Cameroon, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, and Minister of Communication, on ongoing Internet blackout in anglophone regions of the country.
Internet Without Borders
Mapping countries that censor the internet
A silver lining at the end of a dark tunnel. A new app claims to enable users to test networks around the world for government interference. The program, named ‘ooniprobe’ is part of a 5-year-old project called the Open Observatory of Network Interference. The project is sponsored by Tor, the organization behind the privacy-preserving Tor Browser.