Avaaz today welcomed the news that South Africa’s High Court has ruled that Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) and Primedia Limited (Primedia) acted unconstitutionally when they censored Avaaz’s advertising campaign at OR Tambo International Airport which called on President Zuma to stop the trade in lion bones.
Emma Ruby-Sachs, Campaign Director at Avaaz said:
“The judge today has ripped off the gag on 700,000 people, and protected the right to free speech across South Africa. This decision is a victory for citizens everywhere who now can begin, again, calling on President Zuma to end the brutal lion bone trade, before lions are wiped out for good.”
The adverts were removed as ACSA was concerned that the inclusion of the President in the ads could cause a “public relations nightmare” and ordered them to be blanked over “a.s.a.p.” after just nine days.
The adverts were displayed across the International Arrivals Hall and depict a lioness looking down the barrel of a gun, with a picture of President Zuma in the background with the caption saying; “Our lions are being slaughtered to make bogus sex potions for Asia. Will President Zuma save them? Urge him to stop the deadly lion bone trade now.”
At Avaaz’s request, Primedia - who manage advertisements in the airports for ACSA - had pre-approved the advertisements which were due to run for one month. But following a request from a journalist to photograph the ads, ACSA denied the journalist access and ordered the ads to be taken down immediately with no reason provided to Avaaz or time for Avaaz to respond. One Primedia staff member told Avaaz the company had come under immense pressure to blank out the advertising. More....