Stop harassment of journalists – MISA Zambia

By Staff Reporter

Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia has condemned police harassment of journalists covering the arrival and subsequent questioning of UPND Leader Hakainde Hichilema at Ndola Central Police on Tuesday.

A Zambia News and Information Services journalist Frank Ching’ambu was on Tuesday morning detained by police when he tried to film Hichilema’s appearance at Ndola Police station where he was summoned for interrogations.

Other journalists were not allowed to enter police premises as the area was cordoned by multitudes of armed police officers.

In a statement MISA vice chairperson Hyde Haguta said the harassment of the media practitioners which included the unwarranted detention of one journalist and the barring of others from covering the operation has left the institute in utter shock and disbelief.

He wondered whether it had become an offence for journalists to cover an individual who appears at the police station for questioning more especially a matter that is in public interest.

“The police should not forget the role played by the media in the country. They should not ignore the fact that members of the Fourth Estate play a crucial role in this country’s democracy. MISA Zambia reiterates that the media plays an important role in facilitating development at local, national and international level. The media provides a platform for citizens to engage with each other on development issues of concern to them, and enables citizens to dialogue with duty bearers and other stakeholders, thereby contributing to improved participation of citizens in decision making,” said Haguta

He said MISA held a view that any attack or harassment of journalists or media houses was not only a violation of the media’s freedom to seek and share information, but also an infringement on the citizens’ democratic right to seek, receive and share information through their preferred platforms.

“These media freedom violations by the police are unacceptable. Journalists must be able to freely carry out their duties. We call on the authorities not to obstruct their work,” he said. “We therefore call upon the relevant authorities to take necessary action against overzealous officers”.

Haguta has since called on all Zambians of goodwill to condemn such behaviour as they were an infringement for freedom of speech.