press freedom

Botswana’s ‘Freedom of Press’ Ranking Improves

Botswana's 'Freedom of the Press' ranking has gone up, according to the French NGO, Reporters Without Borders (RWB), which places the country at 42, 20 places up from the country’s 2010 ranking.

In its 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index, which ranks Namibia at 20th, the RWB has declared the Southern African nation, the only African state whose press operates in a ‘good situation’.

The organisation states media independence can only be maintained in strong democracies and that democracy needs media freedom.

Zim Cracks Down on Newspapers

The Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) has warned that several top South African publications circulating in Zimbabwe could face a ban, along with the UK-published Zimbabwean, unless they register their operations.

ZMC head, Godfrey Majonga, points out that, "None of the publications or their journalists appears on our registers and we are very concerned at this development."

NGO Criticises Secrecy Bill Changes

The Right2Know Campaign says that changes made to the Protection of Information Bill by lawmakers fail to deliver legislation befitting a democracy and called for drafting to resume from scratch.

The organisation points out that despite ‘emergency surgery’ by MPs over the past month, the bill still offered only scant protection for whistleblowers and none whatsoever for ordinary citizens or journalists who expose state secrets that reveal government wrongdoing.

Media Must Continue Regulating Itself

The Press Council of South Africa says the print media should continue to regulate itself while beefing up its oversight bodies and codes.

The Council points out that it has endorsed the system of media self-regulation and has proposed sweeping changes to the South African Press Code and the functioning of the office of the press ombudsman.

It was releasing a task team's report on its functioning and that of the office of the press ombudsman's after a year-long probe.

March Against Repressive Media Laws

In a rare show of unity, Malawi's opposition parties and a coalition of civil society groups will be protesting against the country’s repressive media laws recently passed by Parliament, fuel shortages and bad economic governance.

The media law, endorsed by President Bingu wa Mutharika and the government concerns the amendment of Section 46 of the Penal Code, which will allow the information minister to ban publications deemed contrary to public interest.

DLF Warns Against Secrecy Bill

The Democratic Left Front (DLF) has warned that the recent concessions made by the African National Congress (ANC) on the Protection of Information Bill are not good enough.
 
In a press statement, media freedom activist, Jane Duncan, points out that, "While these concessions have improved the bill, it will still be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to ensure transparency of the most shadowy of all state structures, the security cluster."
 

Call for MPs to Shelve the Secrecy Bill

The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) has written to MPs asking them to shelve the controversial Protection of Information Bill until it has been redrafted.

SANEF is also urging MPs to shelve the processing of the Bill until the overwhelming opposition voiced during public hearings is given proper weight in its redrafting.

The organisation says this will ensure that the Bill is not passed into law without amendments to address these crucial threats to the constitutional guarantee of openness and the proper functioning of our democracy.

Chabane to Meet SANEF

Minister in the Presidency, Collins Chabane, will meet the South African National Editors Forum to discuss the deteriorating relationship between the media and the government.
 
The meeting, requested by SANEF, follows last week’s meeting in which SANEF met with government spokesperson, Jimmy Manyi and a Government Communication and Information Systems delegation to address the tension but the gathering "broke down very badly".
 
Manyi, who is blamed for the tension, is also set to attend this week’s meeting.

SANEF: Mandela Stood for Press Freedom

The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) says that Nelson Mandela believed the press should be free from government intervention as they were the only ones who could hold those in power accountable.

SANEF member, Raymond Louw, points out that, “Mandela believed that then, when our democracy was starting; and his words have never been more apt now than now.”

Libya ‘Broke Law’ Over Hammerl’s Death

The Johannesburg Press Club says that Libya is in contravention of international humanitarian law over photographer Anton Hammerl’s death, and is acquiring a reputation for deliberately targeting journalists.

It says the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has held that it is prohibited for states to deliberately withhold from families information on missing relatives.

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