Progress on press freedom in Ethiopia; death by stoning in Brunei; new threat to free press in Singapore; will Jordan protect girls from child marriage?; tracking Egypt’s crackdown on civil society; and Algeria’s Bouteflika resigns.
Press freedom in Ethiopia has improved over the past year. Diaspora media which were previously banned in the country are now accessible and for the first time since 2004, there are no journalists in jail. Although hate speech on social media and offline continues to fan growing tensions, and a proposed law to govern hate speech will stifle free expression. This new series examines a year of reforms in Ethiopia.
Brunei has introduced a new penal code that goes into effect today requiring death by stoning for extramarital sex, anal sex, and abortion; amputation of limbs for stealing; and 100 lashes with a whip for lesbian sex. This law puts LGBT people in danger of cruel punishmentsgoing against their rights.
A proposed law in Singapore could give ministers power to determine what news is false or true. The bill does not offer guidance on how a minister would make such a decision, creating space for drastic measure against information deemed critical of the government.
Ciham Ali Abdu has been detained for 6 years in Eritrea now. She was arrested as she attempted to leave the country after her father went into exile.
As the Jordanian parliament negotiates the personal status law, they should ensure that amendments protect girls from child marriage which exposes girls to serious health risks, deepens poverty, and puts them at greater risk of domestic violence.
New laws in Egypt prevent NGOs from working independently. The laws have been used to freeze NGO assets paralyzing their operations, and to charge NGO staff members with ‘receiving foreign funds’. Although President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has called for reforms, it is unlikely that revisions of these laws will offer civil society any protection.
And finally, after 20 years in power, Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has resigned, but protests for regime change could continue.