safety of journalists in southern Africa


ver the past five years, MISA has reported at least 800 media freedom and freedom of expression violations within the Southern African
Development Community (SADC). Most of these violations are recorded in our annual state of media freedom publication, So this is Democracy?.
We collate violations from MISA research and alerts issued throughout the year as a result of our media monitoring work. This also includes
information from external reports as well as violations and issues reported directly to us. The violations cover a range of incidents media workers
can experience during the course of their work, classified into ten categories, with an 11th category reporting on victories.
MISA monitors physical attacks on journalists through violations classified as beatings, bombings, detentions, killings, and threats. We also monitor
violations that can affect media workers psychologically or otherwise threaten their ability to carry out their work in a safe and free environment.
These are classified as censorship, restrictive legislation, banning or expulsion, and sentencing of media workers.

Media violation cateogories
KILLED - This category includes, not only journalists who are found dead, but those who have gone
missing and disappeared.
BEATEN - This includes incidents where journalists are assaulted, attacked physically, tortured, or
wounded during the course of their work.
BOMBED - This includes incidents where a media worker’s home or the office of a media house/outlet/
organisation is sabotaged through bombing, arson, vandalism, theft, or is raided or occupied forcibly.
DETAINED - This refers to when a media worker is put behind bars. It can be legal or illegal and
includes being sentenced to a jail term or being detained (without charge, incommunicado, preventative,
CENSORED - This is where information is suppressed or prevented from being published, or where
media workers are somehow or other prevented from getting their information out. Censorship can
include banning; gagging orders; order for excisions; using legislative restrictions to prevent publication;
closing down or suspending a publication or broadcaster; or confiscating equipment and/or materials.
EXPELLED - This refers to incidents where journalists are expelled from a country, are prevented
from entering a country (denying of visas, work papers or accreditation), are prevented from leaving a
country, are barred from travelling into a country or from entering certain areas, and generally inhibited
from moving freely in order to perform their work.


LEGISLATION - This relates to all aspects of the legislative process and the application of common
law, including where official proposals are made for new laws, legislation is passed, laws are amended
or struck down either in parliament or by the courts, and civil litigation is instituted against media. This
category also includes positives events where legislation is enacted that enhances media freedom
and freedom of expression. The alerts are categorised as either ‘threatening legislation’ or ‘positive
SENTENCED - This is when a judgement is handed down against a media worker involving either a
prison term or a fine.
THREATENED - This involves a threat from a public official, a death threat, various forms of
harassment (such as veiled warnings, threats of action, or interference in editorial processes), or
journalists being questioned or interrogated about their sources.
VICTORY - This invovles a range of positive events making the media environment in southern Africa
more conducive to allowing media freedom and freedom of expression. The incidents might affect
individual media workers or media organisations (for example, court overturning a gagging order) or
more broadly impact on media freedom, access to information or freedom of expression (for example,
the adoption of media-friendly laws or policies).
OTHER - These are incidents that do not necessarily involve the media, but affect aspects of freedom
of expression or speech in general. For example, cases of sedition against a member of the public or
a violation of the right to freedom of assembly and protest. Incidents concerning media pluralism (a
publication closing down because of financial reasons) or access to the public media, also belong in this

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