Table of Contents Biographical Notes 1 Introduction: Furthering a Family Affair, by Raymond Louw
2 European Union/South East Europe 6 France 7 Hungary 11 Ireland 16 Italy 19 Serbia 21 Slovakia 24 Spain 25 Turkey 28 United Kingdom 32 Former Soviet Union 33 Azerbaijan 34 Belarus 36 Kazakhstan 39 Russia 43 Uzbekistan 48 Sub-Saharan Africa 50 Botswana 51 Burundi 54 Cameroon 56 Democratic Republic of Congo 58 Ethiopia 61 Gambia 65 Ivory Coast 67 Mauritania 72 Niger 75 Rwanda 76 Senegal 79 Sierra Leone 83 Zimbabwe 86
Latin America/Caribbean 89 Argentina 90 Brazil 92 Colombia 94 Cuba 96 Ecuador 98 Mexico 100 Peru 102 Uruguay 104 Venezuela 106 Asia-Pacific 108 Afghanistan 109 Cambodia 111 China 115 Fiji 117 India 119 Indonesia 122 Malaysia 127 Pakistan 130 Singapore 132 Thailand 134 Vietnam 138 Middle East/North Africa 142 Algeria 143 Bahrain 146 Egypt 150 Iran 153 Iraq 156 Kuwait 160 Lebanon 162 Morocco 165 Sudan 173 Tunisia 174 United Arab Emirates 177 Yemen 179
Patti McCracken is an independent American journalist, based in Austria. She was
an assistant editor at The Chicago Tribune and twice a Knight International Press
Fellow. Her articles appear in various publications, notably Smithsonian Magazine,
The Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal. She has more than 15
years experience as a journalism trainer throughout the former Soviet bloc, the
Balkans, Southeast Asia and North Africa. She is an assistant professor at Webster
University’s Vienna campus.
Raymond Louw was editor of the anti-Apartheid newspaper the Rand Daily Mail in South Africa for 11 years and until 2011 editor/publisher of the weekly
newsletter Southern Africa Report. He has campaigned for press freedom most of
his professional life. His work against insult law and criminal defamation was part
of a longstanding World Press Freedom Committee campaign. The International
Press Institute named him a Press Freedom Hero in 2011. He
chairs the South
African Press Council and is active in the South Africa National Editors Forum.
FURTHERING A FAMILY AFFAIR by Raymond Louw
There has been some progress in Africa toward abolition of insult laws and
criminal defamation. But there is stillfar to go. The latest step forward was when
President Mahamadou Issoufou became the first head of state to endorse
the Declaration of Table Mountain, a text originated by press NGOs calling for
repeal of such laws and to put press freedom higher on the agenda in Africa.
President Issoufou signed the Declaration in a ceremony in his capital of Niamey
organized by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-
IFRA), the World Editors Forum, the African Editors Forum, and Niger’s Maison
de la Presse, with more than 1,000 participants, including ambassadors and
government officials from more than 25 countries.
The Declaration of Table Mountain was adopted in Cape Town, South Africa in
2007. Numerous press freedom and civil society groups -- and South Africa’s
Nobel Peace Prize lareate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, -- have endorsed its call for
repeal of laws that give false legal cover for the vast majority of African nations
that continue to jail journalists and close media houses on charges of defamation or
for "insulting" authorities or their policies. Other African leaders need to follow
President Issoufou's example. Some are pledged to do so.
African groups endorsing the Declaration of Table Mountain include the African
Editors Forum, Freedom of Expression Institute, Media Institute of Southern
Africa, Media Foundation for West Africa, Observatoire-OLPEC, the Egyptian
Organization for Human Rights, Institute for the Advancement of Journalism,
South African National Editors Forum, Journaliste En Danger, National Union of
Somali Journalists and African Media Initiative. In addition to the World Press
Freedom Committee and Freedom House, they have been joined in this by such
international groups as International PEN, Reporters Without Borders, Article 19,
Index on Censorship, International Press Institute, Committee to Protect
Journalists, Media Rights Agenda, International Publishers Association and the
Media Legal Defense Initiative.
The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA adopted
the Declaration of Table Mountain at a conference in Cape Town back in June
2007. The aims of that text are easily stated -- abolition by African nations of insult
and criminal defamation laws and other restrictions on the operations of the media
– but not so easily brought about.
Alison Meston, Press Freedom Director of WAN-IFRA, who leads her group’s
campaign on the issue, says: “In country after country, the African press is crippled
by a panoply of repressive measures, from jailing and persecution of journalists to
the widespread scourge of 'insult laws' and criminal defamation. Through this
Declaration, WAN-IFRA has stated its conviction that Africa urgently needs a
strong, free and independent press as a watchdog over public institutions.”
She notes: “One of the most widely used -- and frequently abused -- elements of
justice is criminal defamation, deployed by governments from Algiers to Pretoria,
Dakar to Mogadishu, when it comes to suppressing information and silencing
critical journalism. Across the continent such laws criminalize journalists, close
publications and stifle information otherwise considered crucial to safeguard the
public interest. Research into the number of cases based on criminal defamation
before the 2007 Declaration, conducted for the World Press Freedom Committee --
an international coalition of press freedom organizations in which WAN-IFRA is
active -- revealed an alarming frequency that severely hampers the ability of the
press to cover issues of public concern.
“Reporters covering corruption of public officials, police or military conduct,
government policy decisions, public spending, even the health of kings or
presidents, continue to be systematically hauled to court for defamation.
Journalists, editors and publishers across the continent who resist the enormous
pressure to self-censor and choose to tackle the so-called ‘red lines’ head on in
their newspapers risk charges of endangering national security, destabilizing the
country and -- in extreme cases -- treason. They are frequently jailed for exposing
the truth and even in cases where financial compensation is deemed appropriate,
pay recompense to plaintiffs. Exorbitant fines often far outweigh actual damage.
Assets are seized, publications closed and often the accused risk prison when
unable to pay. Criminalizing defamation deters investigative journalism and
reduces the ability of the press to fill its watchdog role.”
The link between an active and independent press, free from government
interference and intimidation, is a key step on the road to economic, political and
social development. There are many steps along the road involving local, regional
and international organizations partnering both on the ground and in the
continent’s corridors of power. A major goal in coming months is to amend the
African Peer Review Mechanism, a mutually agreed self-monitoring instrument of
African Union countries to review governance, so that it includes press freedom
amongst its assessment criteria. The Declaration of Table Mountain campaign fits
directly with this aim and has been gathering steady momentum on every level.
After intense lobbying with policymakers, the African Commission for Human and
Peoples’ Rights has adopted a resolution on defamation that provides a real
possibility of meaningful change.
In September 2010, the campaign was given a boost when Africa’s leading press
freedom advocates -- editors, journalists and activists -- met in Nairobi, Kenya, to
support it and form a campaign steering committee to place it in the forefront of
press freedom in Africa. Its members include Omar Belhouchet, Director of the
Algerian daily Al Watan: Cheriff Sy, Director of the publication Bendré in Burkina
Faso and Deputy Chair of the African Editors Forum; Albert Twizeyimana, a
journalist with Radio Rwanda and founder of Journalistes Libres (JOLI); and
Gitobu Imanyara, a human rights lawyer, member of the Kenyan Parliament and
founder of the Nairobi Law Monthly.
So far, Ghana is the only African country to have fully repealed insult and criminal
defamation laws, though a handful of others have partially decriminalized them.
The campaign is gathering steam. Amongst the outspoken opponents of criminal
defamation in Africa are Pansy Tlakula, the African Union’s Special Rapporteur
on Freedom of Expression.
Highlights of activities for the Table Mountain Declaration in 2010-11 included:
• The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights passed a resolution
to repeal criminal defamation.
• A meeting of the Media Foundation of West Africa, Article 19, Media Law
Defense Initiative, Index on Censorship and legal consultant Emmanuel
Abdulai decided to launch research into criminal defamation.
• The two leading presidential candidates in Niger signed the Declaration
before 1,200 people.
• Editors and media rights defenders attended a daylong seminar on the
Declaration for 20
anniversary celebrations of the UNESCO-sponsored and
endorsed Windhoek (Namibia) Declaration of African journalists, the first
text of its kind on international commitment to press freedom.
• Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai agreed at the World Justice
Forum in Barcelona, Spain, to sign the Declaration in a public ceremony in
Zimbabwe in 2012
• 10 year celebrations for repeal of criminal defamation in Ghana, resulted in
the West African Bar Association and other lawyers taking forward a high
profile case to the Court of Justice of the 15-member Economic Community
of West African States
• A campaign was launched to test Sierra Leone’s criminal defamation laws in
the country’s Constitutional Court.
I’ve waged similar campaigns all over Africa where the reception wasn’t
encouraging. Once, I tried to persuade President Festus Mogae of Botswana to
repeal insult laws. He would hear none of it, saying the laws protect poor citizens.
As a member of the South African National Editors Forum, I was the Declaration’s
leading drafter. For me, this is more than a matter of public interest. It’s also a
family affair. South Africa has criminal defamation in its common law but has long
ceased to apply it. One of the last persons tried for criminal defamation in South
Africa was my own son Derek, as editor of the University of Witwatersrand
student magazine, Wits Student, for “defaming” then-Prime Minister John Vorster
and the leader of the United Party opposition Sir De Villiers Graaff.
Declaration of Table Mountain:http://www.wan-press.org/article14289.html