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Backlash over clampdown on music groups

Publish date: 10 June 2024
Issue Number: 1080
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: Lesotho

Journalists and civil society in Lesotho are fighting a government demand for a media blackout of Famo music groups which are linked to gangsterism. News24 reports that they warn that this would set a dangerous precedent for censorship. The authorities last month outlawed 12 Famo music groups, with Police Minister Lebona Fabian Lephema declaring them ‘illegal entities’. He told the media that it was a criminal act for journalists to publish interviews with them. Kananelo Boloetse, chairperson of the Lesotho chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, said journalists must ‘resist this blatant intimidation and to continue their crucial work of providing unbiased and comprehensive news coverage’. The Committee to Protect Journalists says the police had no business dictating who journalists may or may not interview. The Transformation Resource Centre, a human rights group in Lesotho, said government is using the 1984 Internal Security Act, ‘meant to operate in an authoritarian setting that does not subscribe to fundamental human rights and freedoms’, to enforce the blackout. Famo is a music genre featuring singing backed by an accordion, a drum, and sometimes a bass. It began in the drinking dens of Basotho migrant labourers in the 1920s. But over the years, the music has come to be associated with gangs primarily linked to illegal gold mining in Lesotho and SA.

Full News24 report

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