Stakeholders call for the protection and safety of journalists
Written by newsroom on May 4, 2021
Zambia joined the rest of the world yesterday , in commemorating World Press Freedom day under the theme“Information as a Public Good.”
In his address to commemorate the day, U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, David Young said there is need to honor journalists in Zambia and around the world by standing with them to encourage policymakers, law enforcement Officers, and other stakeholders to protect them from violence, and intimidation.
Mr. Young said such actions will reinforce press freedom and strengthen the media as a pillar of democracy.
And Mr. Young has noted with concern that the cherished freedom is under threat in Zambia from incidents of political intimidation and harassment of journalists.
He said some Zambian media outlets have been forced to shut down around the country because of violence saying some Video footage has shown images of political party cadres breaking into radio stations, threatening opposition party leaders, and stopping radio programs live on the air.
Meanwhile, the Free Press Initiative FPI has said Journalists and media workers have continued to face serious attacks from political party cadres during the course of their duties.
FPI founder, Joan Chirwa says attacks on media workers are even more worrying, considering that the country will be having general elections in August.
Despite many calls for the safety of journalists, media practitioners in Zambia and other countries in the world cannot still operate freely and go their way in the field of journalism without having to look over their shoulders.
In another development Battle Cry for Zambia has implored the media in Zambia to remain professional and give the right content to the Zambian people as they draw closer to elections.
Battle Cry for Zambia Founder Apostle O’Brian Mayambu has since called on journalists to stick to their ethics.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission HRC has called for protection and safety of journalists and media independence.
Human Rights Commission Spokesperson Mweelwa Muleya says the Commission has also called for enhanced respect and protection of Journalists and press freedom before, during and after the 12th August 2021 Presidential and General Elections.
Mr. Muleya has urged members of the public, particularly political party carders, to accord the due respect to the media as the Fourth Estate of Government after the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
He said it is important to appreciate the fact that Press Freedom is the hallmark of sustainable development in all areas of human endeavor and must be cherished and protected by everyone.
Speaking in a media statement to Flava News, Mr. Muleya further said in a democracy such as Zambia, the government has a primary responsibility to promote and protect the right to freedom of expression without any form of interference or hindrance.
And a media expert has noted that the past 10 years have seen Zambia go back to the One Party state times especially with limitations on access to information seen through laws like the Cyber Security Act.
Former State House Chief Press Analyst Kennedy Limwanya, notes that reluctance to enact the Access to Information Bill into law are an indication that both government and the media have not set the agenda of information sharing high on their priority lists.
Mr. Limwanya states that in the run up to elections, the media has to take up the role of representing the people and depicting a true picture of what is obtaining on the ground to enable them to make informed decisions during voting time.
He says most journalists are afraid to carry out their duties effectively because of fear of reprisals from government and members of the ruling party, noting there is need for courageous journalists to give a true picture of the political landscape.