Month: November 2013

Worrying Trend of Violence Against Journalists and Threats to Media Freedom in Eastern Africa

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By Florence Gichoya

ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa recently launched a report on cases of human rights violations against journalists and media outlets across East Africa since January 2013. At least 13 journalists have been killed in the region showing a worrying trend of media intimidation.

Somali remains the deadliest country in the region for journalists, where the group notes the killing of 10 journalists so far this year.

The report provides a snapshot of the violence and intimidation including reports of death punitive legal action taken in relation to media reports, as well as bans to publications and broadcasts for the past ten months.

“The killing of journalists is the ultimate form of censorship and a severe blow to democracy. The authorities must make every effort to bring those responsible for these killings to justice or risk the security situation deteriorating even further” said Henry Maina, Director of ARTICLE 19 East Africa.

It is important that all stakeholders take responsibility in proper evidence documentation and not blanket accusing government or political parties. Journalists need to hold each other accountable. “While impunity reigns, corruption also reigns in journalists” Henry Maina observed. The common cry of “poor pay” is not sufficient to warrant compromising the rule of law. Journalists should work together to weed out the rot in the profession.

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Patrick Mutahi, the Programme Officer – ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa

Patrick Mutahi the programme officer with ARTICLE 19 observed that all Eastern African countries have enacted national laws guaranteeing freedom of expression and freedom of media. However, there have been cases of deliberate attacks on editors in Tanzania and hostile environment on investigative work in Kenya. In Uganda there have been reported cases of journalists’ assaults and arrests. In May 2013, media houses like Daily Monitor, KFM, and Dembe FM were shut down by the state.

Rwanda has seen three journalists arrested and on 4th June 2013 copies of the Rwandan newspapers Impamo, Rushyashya and Intego were confiscated by guards in Gatuna at the border with Uganda. The guards alleged that the newspapers contained information that President Paul Kagame might seek re-election for a third term. Five days later, the newspapers were released after the media owners agreed not to publish the information.

Somalia is a conflict zone and there are constant deliberate attacks on media workers by clans, warlords, and alshabab. This year alone 10 Somali journalists have been killed, 4 media houses banned and 22 journalists arrested. Rahmo Abdulkadir a Somali journalist who worked for Abudwaq media network was shot dead on 24th March 2013. No arrests have been made despite the police promising to investigate. Fu’ad Nur Alasow who worked for Radio Al-Fuqaa was shot dead by Al-Shaabab after the terrorist group accused him of spying for the government.

Eritrea is a closed country that is run in presidential decrees since the constitution was suspended. There are scores of Eritrean journalists in exile or imprisoned by the state and the numbers are not ascertained. There is lack of political will to promote freedom of expression in the country.

Fasil Girma a journalist from Ethiopia during the Report launch
Fasil Girma a journalist from Ethiopia during the Report launch

In Ethiopia, the government controls the flow of information and journalists are not allowed to form a professional association. The country has only one state TV broadcaster and only government sponsored newspapers are in circulation. The anti-terrorism law adopted in 2009 has been used by the state to intimidate journalists and arrest them. Solomon Kadebe an Ethiopian journalist with Yemuslimoch Guday Magazine was detained in January 2013 and his case is being held in a closed court.

Lawrence Mute, Commissioner at Africa Commission on Human and People’s Rights emphasized that “impunity cannot be resolved outside the political context; it is lazy to ascribe all impunity to the state organs. Media ownership, business community interests and terror groups like Al Shabab also play a key role in propagating impunity in the region.”

The report was launched to coincide with the International Day to End Impunity which is commemorated on 23rd November. Impunity has had a chilling effect on the media in the region with many journalists opting for self-censorship. The society is left with a vastly controlled media that is not protected and unable to provide the public with objective information on vital issues. Instigators of attacks on journalists are rarely held accountable thus leading to impunity cycle.

This report has been compiled from initial media monitoring by ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa. It includes information about cases in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda. These incidents are currently under investigation by ARTICLE 19 which is working to verify and fully document the human rights abuses against journalists and media outlets in each country.

Students Marvel with over-the-top luncheon

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By Florence Gichoya

I was ecstatic when i received an invitation to a luncheon organized by food and beverage management students from Machakos University College. The institution is located in Machakos county which is 64 km from Nairobi city. Machakos has made a lot of development progress through its robust leadership as evident in media reports. I arrived 30 minutes before time so that i could take a walk round the town and attest the growing opportunities in the town.

The students were expected to prepare a three course meal for 40 guests. The creativity of was evident as they had set up the restaurant with African decor giving a relaxed ambiance. The starter was served and it was velvety pumpkin soup laced with natural yoghurt. I must say that the soup was very delicious and had peppery feel to it.

The main course was a scrumptious meal of vegetable rice and braised ox liver accompanied with buttered red cabbage. The food presentation was exquisite and it only geared up my appetite. The meal was very delicious and it was evident by the positive remarks coming from the invited guests.

As for desert I went for a serving of fresh assorted fruits dipped in vanilla cream. The students also served cold orange juice which was made of blended oranges.

I enjoyed my lunch very much and commended the students for job well done. Indeed they are well prepared to work in the growing hospitality industry in Kenya. The trip to Machakos county was worth it, in fact i urged the school administration to organize such activities more often. And i informed them that i would be sharing the experience with my readers.

Below is the recipe of the best pumpkin soup you will ever find.

pumpkin soup

Ingredients:

  • Pumpkin shallots
  • Celery
  • Leeks
  • Bouquet garni (which is made of bay leaves, black pepper and white pepper)
  • Natural yoghurt

Pumpkin soup preparation:

  1. Saute the pumpkin shallots with butter
  2. Lightly add chopped celery and leek and stir
  3. Cook lightly and then add pumpkin cut into cubes
  4. Cook until soft
  5. When the pumpkin is ready allow it to cool
  6. Puree the pumpkin and add the bouquetgarni
  7. Serve with two spoons of natural yoghurt

Try it out, i know you will love it!