Today, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights issued its judgment on the landmark freedom of speech case, Lohé Issa Konaté v. Burkina Faso.  In a major victory for media and human rights organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Court “has ruled that imprisonment for defamation violates the right to freedom of expression while criminal defamation laws should only be used in restricted circumstances.”  The Court now has added its voice to the chorus of bodies — including the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Union’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa — which have spoken out against these laws.  Considering that criminal defamation laws are an unfortunate relic of colonialism that are “nearly always used to punish legitimate criticism of powerful people,” the decision of the Court (which is final and binding on state Parties to the Protocol to the African Charter) is a significant and historic step forward in realizing freedom of speech across the continent.