Eastern Africa: Take urgent action to support free speech and vital rights

Eastern Africa: Take urgent action to support free speech and vital rights - Civic Space

Trainee journalists in Uganda. Photo: Bukulu Steven/ Wikimedia

In its oral submission at the 73rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa highlighted improvements and failures regarding the realisation and promotion of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and access to information in the region. 

Read the full submission

The organisation did point to positive improvements, including the Burundi government’s lifting of the ban on BBC and Voice of America that had been in place since 2019, as well as a Kenyan High Court’s decision to reverse rules preventing litigants and others from voicing opinions about the hearing for the Presidential Election Petition. 

However, ARTICLE 19 EA drew attention to recent events that made it clear that countries in the region were continuing to fall short on meeting international standards for these key freedoms. These included rife disinformation and misinformation disseminated during Kenya’s general election in August 2022; a new law in Uganda that severely curtails digital rights; the continued detention of journalist Diing Magot in South Sudan and journalists Amir Aman Kiyaro and Thomas Enigda in Ethiopia; and threats to freedom of expression and access to information arising from the ongoing armed conflict in Ethiopia between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the government. 

In light of this, ARTICLE 19 issued a series of recommendations, urging through its appeal to the Commission that member states protect journalists, guarantee their right to freedom of expression, and conduct thorough investigations into attacks against journalists and the media, among other recommendations. 

Read the submission