Media freedom

Regional court upholds freedom of expression, media freedom

The Tanzanian government, seen as oppressive in its attitude to a number of democratic freedoms including freedom of expression and free media, has lost a significant battle at the East African Court of Justice. The EACJ, which resolves disputes involving the East African Community and its member states, was approached by the newspaper, Mseto, after the Tanzanian government suspended it from all operations for three years. First, the EACJ trial court held that the suspension was unlawful.

Read judgment from the East African Court of Justice, trial court 

Read judgment from the East African Court of Justice, appeal court

Judicial independence is critical to protecting press freedom in Africa

In this opinion piece, Anneke Meerkotter, Litigation Director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), discusses a recent High Court of Lesotho (sitting as a Constitutional Court) judgment which declared the offence of criminal defamation unconstitutional. She takes the opportunity to also reflect more generally on the extent to which judiciaries have created the space for constitutional jurisprudence to be exercised in a manner that facilitates social transformation. 

 

PEN Report: Criminal Defamation is Used to Stifle Dissent in Africa

JUDICIAL independence and media freedom are usually linked. In countries where judges feel unacceptable levels of government pressure it is probable that journalists will be experiencing the same thing.

As far as journalists are concerned, criminal defamation is a serious problem hampering the media and undermining the watchdog role of journalists in many African countries. Typically, criminal defamation is used by political and business leaders in particular, to prevent journalists from investigating and writing about personal corruption, corruption in government departments or corruption in business.

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