Insult Laws: Insulting to Press Freedom
A Guide to Evolution of Insult Laws in 2010

by Patti McCracken, introduction by Raymond Louw

A publication of  the World Press Freedom Committee and Freedom House
funded by Ringier AG and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

Introduction

Read the full report here.

Introduction

There has been some progress in Africa toward abolition of insult laws and criminal defamation. But there is still far to go. The latest step forward was when Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou became the first head of state to endorse the Declaration of Table Mountain, a text originated by press NGOs calling for repeal of such laws and to put press freedom higher on the agenda in Africa.

President Issoufou signed the Declaration in a ceremony in his capital of Niamey organized by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WANIFRA), the World Editors Forum, the African Editors Forum, and Niger’s Maison de la Presse, with more than 1,000 participants, including ambassadors and government officials from more than 25 countries.

The Declaration of Table Mountain was adopted in Cape Town, South Africa in 2007. Numerous press freedom and civil society groups -- and South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize lareate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, -- have endorsed its call for repeal of laws that give false legal cover for the vast majority of African nations that continue to jail journalists and close media houses on charges of defamation or for "insulting" authorities or their policies. Other African leaders need to follow President Issoufou's example. Some are pledged to do so.

Read the rest of the introduction and report here.