As the world marks World Press Freedom Day, East African journalists face mounting hostility. Media experts warn of declines in media freedom at the regional level, and reveal a level of hostility toward the media and contraction of civic space openly encouraged by leaders.
Just this week, the Uganda Communications Commission directed the six television stations and seven radio stations to suspend their producers and heads of news and programs, alleging they breached standards by airing “extremist or anarchic messages” and inciting and misleading content by covering musician and politician Bobi Wine.
Reporter in East Africa, Sarah Kimani, says several human rights organisations have spoken about a climate of fear that is spreading across the East African region when it comes to media freedom.
“They’re talking about suppression of the press, arrests and even enforced disappearances for some of the journalists who work in the region. This is not isolated to any country, it comes from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Somalia, Ethiopia. Most interestingly, this is the first time that Ethiopia is marking World Press Freedom Day without a journalist behind bars,” says Kimani.
Kimani says in those countries, television stations get shut by government for having opposing views.
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