Ethiopia: Eskinder Nega sentenced to 18 years in prison

Prominent Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega was today sentenced to 18 years in prison for violating anti-terrorism laws. He and 23 other activists and writers were convicted last month, and accused of links with US-based opposition group Ginbot Seven, which Ethiopia considers a terrorist organisation. Last September Eskinder was arrested after publishing an article questioning arrests made under Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism legislation, namely that of well-known Ethiopian actor and government critic Debebe Eshetu.

Liberia: Journalist who reported on female genital mutilation forced into hiding

Threats have forced Liberian journalist Mae Azango into hiding  after she reported on female genital mutilation (FGM). Azango, who is currently in the United States, faced a backlash after she wrote an article for leading independent daily newspaper FrontPage Africa titled Growing pains: Sande tradition of genital cutting threatens health of Liberian women. The piece forced Liberian officials to declare that the ritual should be stopped, people affiliated with the Sande secret women’s society — which performs FGM — have reportedly threatened the journalist with violence.

Namibia: Journalist wins libel case against Swapo

Freelance journalist John Grobler has won a libel case against Namibia’s ruling Swapo party. On Friday (13 April), the party was ordered to pay Grobler 300,000 Namibian dollars (27,300 GBP) in damages in connection to defamatory statements made about him on the party’s website in September 2009. This is the first time that Swapo itself — rather than an individual party officeholder — has been held legally accountable over libelous statements made on a party platform. It is also the first time that online content has led to someone being held liable for defamation in the country.

Eritrea: Detained journalist admitted to hospital

Eritrean journalist Yirgalem Fisseha Mebrahtu, in custody since her arrest in February 2009, was admitted to hospital in Asmara earlier this year, where she reportedly remains in a serious condition. She has been admitted to the hospital twice, once last November and again in January this year. She is under permanent guard and is allowed no visitors. She was arrested during a raid on Radio Bana on 22 February 2009, during which the station’s entire staff was detained.