African Governments Mark World Press Freedom Day with Crackdown Against Online Journalism
When Uganda in April ordered Internet service providers to shut down all news sites that had not been authorized by the communications regulator, it was the latest attempt by President Yoweri Museveni’s government to constrict the space for independent media. The regulator said that only 14 online publishers had met the requirements to remain online, including a USD 20 fee and an interpol clearance certificate. If the directive is implemented in full, millions of websites would become inaccessible and Ugandans would be thrown into a virtual information blackout.
Uganda is not alone in its ambition to control online journalism. Across Sub-Saharan Africa, governments are taking aggressive steps to control what their citizens do and say online, justifying their suppression as necessary for public order and morality or security.
Unless this repressive trend is stemmed, Africa’s young but robust and diverse online media will wither. As journalists today meet in Accra, Ghana, to mark World Press Freedom Day, openness of online journalism in Africa hangs in the balance.
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