Newsletter: Freedom of Expression in East Africa

November 2015

This monthly bulletin provides a snapshot of the status of Freedom of Expression in Eastern Africa. It is compiled by ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa with the assistance of its partners in the respective countries


16 November: Isaac Kugonza, a journalist for Delta TV was shot in the head by police and rushed to Mulago National Referral hospital in critical condition. The journalist was covering the arrest of Capital City’s Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago. Kugonza’s video camera was also damaged as the police fired teargas as well as both rubber and live bullets, aiming to disperse Lukwago’s supporters who were opposed to the police’s attempt to block him from walking to the Electoral Commission headquarters in Kampala.

Isaac is the third journalist to be shot while covering political events in less than two months. Others are Matovu Enock of NTV who was shot on 29 October and Ivan Vincent Mukisa on 15 the same month in Jinja. A dozen others have been assaulted in line of duty in the same period of time by police, politicians, and mob. No investigations have been conducted into these violations.

30 November:  Agnes Najjuma, a Vision Group correspondent in Mpigi District, was assaulted by Nsamizi Institute of Social Development Principal, Tumwesigye Charles, while covering a story involving students who had assaulted a suspected thief. Najjuma’s camera was destroyed during the assault. Nsamizi Institute is a public institution located in Mpigi district, Central Uganda.


10 November: John Ngirachu, a Nation Media Group (NMG) parliamentary affairs editor, was arrested and detained by police for allegedly reporting on “privileged information”. The arrest orders came from the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph who demanded that Ngirachu could only be released upon revealing the source of the “privileged information” he said was obtained from an in-camera session before the Parliamentary Accounts Committee when the CS Nkaissery appeared to respond to questions over irregular payments amounting to Ksh.3.8 billion ($ 38 million) in his ministry.


1 November: Mustaf Shafana, Aljazeera cameraman, lost his life and Feisal Omar, Reuters photographer, sustained wounds following Al Shabab attack on popular hotel in Mogadishu. According to Somali Independent Media Houses Association (SIMHA) Shafana was killed in a second car bomb explosion at Sahafi hotel while he was covering the attack.

8 November: Macaani Haji Arow, a SomnewsTV cameraman in the town of Jowhar, was arbitrary arrested without clear reasons according to media reports. He was freed the following day without charges.

29 November: Jama Yusuf Deperani, a reporter and presenter with Somali Channel TV, was released after being detained for 10 days at Garowe central prison.  According to ARTICLE 19 East Africa’s partner organizations in Somalia, authorities in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland summoned Deperani to their offices in the administrative capital, Garowe, and arrested him without filing any charges against him.


6 November: Blaise Célestin Ndihokubwayo, a reporter for the privately owned station Radio Isanganiro, was arrested by soldiers while covering unrest outside the capital, Bujumbura, according to media reports. The radio journalist was handed to the National Intelligence Service in the capital and he yet to be charged or told the reason for his arrest, according to his radio station.


16 NovemberZone9 Blogger Zelalem Kibret was banned from flying to France to receive this year’s RSF Press Freedom Prize in the citizen-journalist category, according to Reporters Without Borders. Ethiopian authorities confiscated Kibret’s passport and prevented him from boarding his plane when he was about to set off for Paris on 16 November. Immigration officials said he could not leave Ethiopia because he and other Zone9 members had previously been arrested. RSF has said it repeatedly tried to obtain more information about the travel ban from the Ethiopian authorities in Addis Ababa and Paris, but without success.