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Violence by Security Forces Continues

State security agents carried out 58% of the FOE violations recorded in 2018.[1] Security forces and special intelligence agencies often lack accountability, meaning that impunity levels are high for their violations of FOE violations across the continent. Security forces in countries across the region are particularly prone to employing brutal and disproportionate tactics – including firing live rounds into crowds – when tasked with dispersing tactics.[2]

A plainclothes security agent from the military intelligence services of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (4th quartile) arrested journalist Willy Akonda for taking photos of bread-transportation trucks. The agent told Akonda he was able to shoot the journalist with no issue, as he answered only to the President himself.[3]

In Uganda (3rd quartile), men in army camouflage abducted journalist Charles Etukuri as he left the New Vision offices where he worked.[4] Etukuri was released a few days after parliament demanded the Ministry of Internal Affairs explain his whereabouts. Days later, the police picked up Richard Kasule for ‘irresponsible talk’ on his popular political radio show, Simbula; he was released a day later.[5] In February, journalists were barred from covering the trial of a former district police commander, and an officer assaulted journalist Nsimbi Posiano.[6]

In Somalia (4th quartile), a policeman shot at radio director Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed as he left the station on 9 December. The policeman reportedly continued, unarrested, to work for the police. Three days later, two members of the Puntland Security Force threatened Mohamed with death as he walked down the street. These incidents followed several Radio Daljir broadcasts that questioned the security consequences for the region if Asad Osman Abdullahi – a much-criticised former head of the Puntland Security Force – won the Puntland presidential election in January 2019.[7]

In Zimbabwe, several journalists were assaulted during opposition protests and post-election violence on 1 August 2018.[8] Zimbabwe’s Protection score is 0.16 – significantly below the average for the region.

In Mozambique, in March 2018, a political commentator who had been critical of the government was abducted in broad daylight in Maputo, beaten, and left unconscious in the outskirts of the city.[9]


[1] AFEX, Annual Freedom of Expression Situation in Africa Report 2018, available at

[2] Civicus, Monitor: Tracking Civic Space, n.d., available at

[3] Committee to Protect Journalists, DRC Journalist Detained, Accused of ‘Compromising’ President Over Bread Truck Photos, 25 January 2019, available at

[4] New Vision, Release Charles Etukuri!, 15 February 2018, available at

[5] Kiggundu Abraham, ‘Top Radio’s Richard Kasule Released From Police Detention’, Blizz Uganda, 21 February 2018, available at

[6] Human Rights Network for Journalists – Uganda, Journalists Blocked from Covering Trial of Senior Police Officer, Bukedde TV Reporter Assaulted, 22 February 2018, available at

[7] Reporters without Borders, RSF Calls for Puntland Policeman’s Arrest for Trying to Murder Journalist, 14 December 2018, available at

[8] Civicus, Monitor: Tracking Civic Space, n.d., available at

[9] Civicus, Monitor: Tracking Civic Space, n.d., available at