PEN SA Africa Pulse #5

17 Feb 2017
PEN SA Africa Pulse #5

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.

Ahmed Naji: ‘Prison made me believe in literature more’

In 2016, Egyptian novelist, Ahmed Naji, was sentenced to two years in prison for “violating public modesty” after publishing a book with references to sex and drugs. At the time PEN America wrote a letter to President Sisi, demanding Naji’s release. In a new interview with The Guardian Naji talks about the arrest and literature.
The Guardian

Facebook users urged to report racist posts

Racist posts on Facebook are common in South Africa and now Facebook is doing something about it. Facebook has taken a step to curb racist posts by urging South Africans on the platform to report any cases of racism.

African nations are increasingly blocking the internet to stem protests

The number of African countries that are blocking internet usage is increasing. A repressive order that is often disguised as a security measure. With eCommerce becoming popular on the African continent, blocking the internet not only violates citizens’ freedom of expression but it also has a negative effect on online purchases and the booming mobile money market.
New York Times

Should cybersecurity be a human right?

In a world in which governments can at any time hack citizens under the guise of security measures, the argument that cybersecurity should become a human right makes more sense. In 2016, the United Nations adopted the UN Human Rights Council resolution on promoting and protecting the freedom of users online, but in addition to having access to the internet, people should be able to use it without the constant threat that private conversations could be accessed without their consent.
Tech Financials

The options for Kenya as an impending election fuels fear of hate speech

In the 2007 elections, Kenya was plunged into a crisis, which saw more than 1000 people killed in ethnic violence sparked by political incitement. As such, the Kenyan Communications Authority has told the media 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. As well meaning as the restrictions are, the debate about where they end and where freedom of speech begins is one that must be had.

Cameroon court postpones trial of anglophone protesters

Three members of Cameroon’s English-speaking opposition, which protests that the country’s linguistic minority is being treated as second-class citizens, pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges at a military court on Monday. The three were arrested in January and charged with conspiracy to commit “acts of terrorism, secession, revolution, insurrection” and “inciting civil war”. A defence attorney, Charles Tchoungang, said that the trial affects “freedom of thought and freedom of belief”.